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Biderman: ‘The Niners are really disconnected from their past’

Jan 31, 2017 at 4:36 PM


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San Francisco 49ers beat writer Chris Biderman, the senior editor of Niners Wire, was kind enough to join our Facebook page live on Tuesday to discuss a myriad of topics related to the team. Before that, he jumped on a radio interview with KNBR on Monday to discuss the 49ers. While much of the conversation involved the surprise hiring of former NFL safety and FOX analyst John Lynch as the new general manager in San Francisco, there was an interesting portion where he discussed ownership's separation from the franchise's great history.

On Monday, Brent Jones joined KNBR and said that it was clear that the 49ers were breaking away from the past. 49ers CEO Jed York mentioned "championship culture" numerous times when he met with the media on January 2 following the firings of former general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly. Ray Woodson of KNBR points out that the term is interesting because the team will not have a link to the "championship culture" of the 80's and 90's.

"I don't know that it is necessarily important just from a football operations standpoint, that they really tie into the past," Biderman said. "I do think, from a fan experience standpoint, that the Niners are really disconnected from their past ever since they moved to Levi's Stadium. The museum is great. They did a really nice job with it but there's no ring of honor. There's no retired numbers anywhere visible in the stadium itself when fans are in their seats. The only homage to history is five tiny little Super Bowl flags that you can't even read. They're so small.

"So, I think, from a fan experience standpoint, the 49ers are missing a big opportunity to acknowledge their history aside from the museum that they built, but I don't necessarily know that they have to have – I understand why fans would say maybe Steve Young would be a great candidate for the job but there's been no indication that Steve Young wants that job. He seems like he's pretty happy. There are people like that who seem like they're content with what they're doing and they aren't exactly banging down Jed York's door to work with him. I don't know that – even if those guys did want to – that the 49ers would all of a sudden be that same team that had so much success in the 80's and 90's just because they've had some of those guys who played on those teams in more prominent roles in the organization.

"But I do think they could do a better job for the fans – just put up some retired numbers somewhere in the stadium. It's just weird. You have Jerry Rice and Joe Montana and Steve Young and all these great players and you can't find any sense that they played for the organization. They're an expansion team since they moved to Santa Clara."

Biderman went on to point out that one of the first things that the San Francisco Giants did when building AT&T Park (then Pacific Bell Park) was to place a Willie Mays statue out front, recognizing their past. There is nothing like that, aside from the museum, at Levi's Stadium.

"I think it kind of beats to the fact that the Yorks really want to do things their own way and want to try to pave their own path and not do it on the backs of what the 49ers already did," Biderman continued. "But, the way the NFL works, if you're going to cater to fans and call them 'Faithful' and do all these things for the Faithful, you should at least acknowledge the past in a way that's more tangible for them. I think just doing that would create a lot more good will between the front office and the fans who have the right to be pretty disenchanted with the way things have gone the last few years."

You can listen to the entire interview on KNBR.

Biderman's comments are interesting because one of the biggest criticisms of Levi's Stadium is how disconnected it feels from the 49ers' great past. The stadium is nice, modern, and offers great features and amenities, but it is lacking the nostalgic elements that made Candlestick Park such a fun stadium at which to attend games. A lot of that may have something to do with the fact that the 49ers have seen little success at their new home whereas Candlestick Park saw countless moments of greatness by players who are now Bay Area legends.
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