Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports



Jed York has put himself in a precarious position. In the coming days, the much-maligned CEO of the San Francisco 49ers will have to make decisions that will shape the future of his franchise for the foreseeable future. The conclusions he'll have to come to with be both difficult and expensive, and it's a situation I would assume no NFL owner would want to find themselves in. Don't feel sorry for Jed though, as he's not worth any of your sympathy. Often in life, you bear the brunt of your choices, and that's where Mr. York finds himself at the moment. These are his mistakes, his shortsightedness that's painted him into this corner. Where York goes from here is up to him, but the path back to respectability will be a treacherous one.

York's first mistake was how he handled the Jim Harbaugh situation, but I don't mean actually letting Harbaugh go. While he was a tremendous coach, life with Harbaugh had apparently grown toxic. Things were so bad, the dysfunction even leaked onto the field as the 49ers finished 1-4 to close out 2014, and saw their playoffs hopes get drenched in the process. Sometimes even the most blissful marriages deteriorate and end up in divorce, and I'll accept that was the case here. After the marriage is over, though, you have to make good decisions in order to move forward in a positive manner. This is where York's downward spiral started to spin out of control.

Replacing Harbaugh, who despite his quirks led the 49ers to a 44-19-1 regular season record, wasn't going to be easy. If you're going to let someone as successful as that go, you have to hit a home run with his successor. It seemed the Niner's brass had the right idea initially, as they appeared ready to tab then Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase as the next man up. Gase is the kind of young, innovative offensive mind that can rejuvenate a franchise, and he reportedly had planned to keep San Francisco's ultra-successful defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, on board. What you would have had here was a perfect scenario that would have kept some of the continuity from the previous regime intact, as well as adding some much-needed life to an offense that had become stagnant under Harbaugh.

Unfortunately, due to York's (alleged) meddling, things fell apart last minute with Gase. York reportedly insisted that Gase hire defensive line coach Jim Tomsula as defensive coordinator, something Gase was said to be uncomfortable with. The result was Gase on the outside looking in, and Tomsula being promoted to head coach. Looking back now, the whole thing seems like a joke. Tomsula was one-and-done after a 5-11 disaster, and Gase is now the head man in Miami and about to lead the Dolphins into the playoffs.

I truly believe that much of the Tomsula debacle had to do with the fact that York's surrounded by yes men and people who enable him to live in his bubble. He thought Tomsula would be a good idea, and that the fans would buy into it given the team's recent success. Instead, the fans were outraged, and the public perception of York went into the toilet. This, most likely, took him by surprise and forced his hand to fire Tomsula after one season.

While getting rid of the over-matched Tomsula was a good choice, York once again screwed things up by not starting over completely after 2015. General manager Trent Baalke, who has taken what was one of the best teams in the NFL and destroyed it, should have also been let go. Whether it's missing on draft picks, ignoring glaring team needs, or taking too many chances on injured players, Baalke's decisions are the main reason San Francisco went from a top three roster to a bottom three roster within a few short years.

So York keeps Baalke around to help hire the next head coach, even though the general manager himself was clearly on the hot seat. The tandem settled on the controversial Chip Kelly, who some would say is better suited for the college ranks anyway. What this did was set up an awkward situation for the future, as another bad season with minimal player development would most likely spell the end of Baalke, and leave Kelly twisting in the wind.

Fast forward to the present, and that's exactly the situation we have. Everything that could have gone wrong for the 49ers did in 2016, as the team was inconsistent on offense and historically bad defensively. They have no answers at quarterback or wide receiver, and much of the young talent on defense has proven to be underwhelming thus far. Add that all together, and you have a two-win season on your hands.

Now Baalke is all but certain to be fired, but what does that mean for Kelly? If York decides to hire a general manager from outside the organization, that person will want to bring in his own people. Odds are, that will leave Kelly without a place at the table, which means the 49ers would be on their fourth coach in four years. Cleveland Browns, anyone?

Another option (which would be a very York thing to do) is pretending to do a "search" and then settling on promoting assistant general manager Tom Gamble. Under this scenario, Kelly stays as coach and gets another chance to prove he belongs in the league. In fairness to Kelly, the roster he inherited is awful, so most weeks were like bringing a knife to a gun fight for him.

Still, the 49ers are so broken right now, so damaged, that a completely clean slate may be the only way to go. That would mean York would be stuck paying Tomsula, Kelly, and Baalke large sums of money just to start over with another regime who will also be making major bucks. That's not an ideal situation by any means, but like I said, sometimes in life, you reap what you sow. York did this to himself, and it's time to pay the piper.

Al Sacco has been covering the 49ers since 2013 and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49