Dear Jed: Apology Rejected

Jan 5, 2016 at 3:09 PM

I've got to admit it, Jed. You almost had me going there.

Nice touch, that "apology" of yours. "This past year was frustrating on many levels for 49ers fans," you wrote. "For that, I want to apologize to you and everyone that cares deeply about this team."

And then, at the podium, you stepped right up and doubled down: "This season wasn't fun. It wasn't fun for me, it certainly wasn't fun for the fans, and I truly am sorry that we had to go through this year."

Even some of your harshest critics were impressed. "He acted with contrition and humility," said one. "He acted the right way. He acted like the man he needs to become."

And even I myself was tempted. As I said, you almost had me going there.

But then I realized, we've been here before.

Let me tell you a story, Jed. It had been a dark time for the Niners. In only a few short years, they'd gone from powerhouse to laughingstock. They had a poor roster that had been poorly coached, but the issue went much deeper than that. After a series of dubious ownership decisions, the Niners—organizationally—lacked any shred of credibility. The fans, purportedly "Faithful" or no, expressed the one doubt that makes owners quake: they doubted whether the owners even wanted to win.

So as the fresh young face of the ownership group, you stepped up to put that doubt to rest. With every ounce of your conviction, you put it in no uncertain terms: "I promise I won't rest until we reestablish a championship culture."

And the fans, as desperate and foolish as fans often are, believed you.

That was eight years ago.

Now let's fast-forward to yesterday, and let's see if this sounds familiar, Jed. It had been a dark time for the Niners. In only a few short years, they'd gone from powerhouse to laughingstock. A poor roster, sure, but a coaching staff that was the league's worst by a country mile, led by the most poorly-equipped head coach ever. And organizationally, the Niners lacked any shred of credibility. The fans, purportedly "Faithful" or no, expressed the same doubt: they doubted whether the owners even wanted to win.

So though neither as fresh nor nearly as young, you stepped up to put that doubt to rest. With every ounce of your conviction, you put it in no uncertain terms: "I want this team to win. Nobody wants this team to win more than I do. And I'm going to work at it every day to make sure that we get back where we belong." You even went so far as to add the classic huckster's favorite line: "You can trust me."

Some fans, as desperate and foolish as fans often are, will again believe you. But dare I say, the smart ones won't.

Oh, don't get me wrong. If you know nothing else—and, by now, it's clear that you might—you know how to deliver a speech. And sure enough, "nobody wants to win more than I do" is at least as stirring as "championship culture." But you can't erase those years in between. And it's those years that prove it. You're lying again.

As the press more or less pointed out, you already had a championship culture. Despite his faults—many of which I've detailed here—Jim Harbaugh produced one immediately. If nobody wanted to win more than you, then you should've kept Harbaugh. Or, upon firing Harbaugh, you should've hired someone who, at least theoretically, could've won just as much.

Instead, you hired Jim Tomsula.

Yesterday, you were asked to explain. "In terms of Jimmy T.," you said, speaking as if Tomsula were some kind of mob-enforcer, "we took a chance on somebody that we believed strongly in, certainly his character, his leadership ability, what he was able to do, and ultimately that didn't work out, and I feel like, watching what my uncle did, watching what my grandfather did, you have to learn from mistakes, you have to learn from failure, and we didn't get this one right."

So let's unpack this. You "believed strongly" that Tomsula could produce wins at a Harbaugh-like rate, in light of "his character," "his leadership ability," and "what he was able to do." These, of course, are lies. We're talking about a coach who couldn't articulate a coherent sentence, let alone a coherent vision. Do you actually expect me to think, for a single second, that you interviewed Tomsula and came away "believing strongly" in "his leadership ability"? Believing that Tomsula would win more than Harbaugh?

It's possible, I guess. But there are two possibilities, and only two. One is that you actually did, in which case you're a complete idiot. The other is that you actually didn't, in which case, despite what you just told us, you don't care about winning, or at least you don't care nearly enough. I subscribe to the latter view, if only because you seem much more conniving than dumb. But in the end, it doesn't matter. In either case, you're totally unfit for your job.

Which brings us back to your purported "contrition and humility."

As I'm sure you know, there's a P.R. tactic known as a "non-apology apology." Here's what Wikipedia says: "A non-apology apology is a statement that has the form of an apology but does not express the expected contrition. It is common in both politics and public relations. It most commonly entails the speaker saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because a person who has been aggrieved is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution or retaliation."

And this, in fact, is what you did. Faced not only with the fans' grievances, but also with their threatened retaliation (and even their actual retaliation, if you consider those rows and rows of empty seats), you said you were sorry. But specifically, you said you were sorry "that we had to go through this year." As if this year was just bad luck.

No, Jed. You didn't have to go through this year; you chose to go through this year. For God's sake, don't you realize what you've done? Eight years ago, you asked us to stick with you as you reestablished a championship culture. We did, and then you did; we joined you on the long, slow climb up the mountain, and then we finally reached the summit. And then, out of some fit of self-righteous pique, you simply threw it all away. And now that we're down at the bottom again, you've got the gall—the absolute gall—to ask us to stick with you again. To trust you. Because, hey, no one wants to win more than you.

Forget it, Jed. It's too late. You can hire whomever you want; now that you know that you must make a splash, I'm sure that you'll go after all the big names. (I'm not sure why any of them would work for you—after all, look how you treated the last big name—but who knows, one of them might.) But I invested in you, and you punished me for it. I simply refuse to invest again.

Especially because, as it turns out, I don't need you.

This season, for the first time in 35 years, I didn't watch the Niners play. I kept tabs on them, enough to know that you'd succeeded in dragging them back to oblivion. But thanks to you, I didn't invest in them. I didn't invest any time, money, labor, or love. I invested those in other interests, which deserved them more. And, again, thanks to you, I didn't miss the Niners at all.

But it was actually even more than that. I celebrated each embarrassing loss. I treasured each empty stadium-seat. Any failure that you could suffer, I wished for you to suffer it. And no matter whom you hire next, I still will wish you to suffer it. For what you did to this glorious team—for turning the league's greatest franchise into one of its very most pathetic—I will wish you to suffer.

And so it's hit me, a truth that I'd been running from but now can simply no longer escape. I'm no longer a Niner fan.

And this site, I know, is for Niner fans.

I've been so honored to have this platform these last seven years. Reaching thousands of you every week was an incredible thrill. And receiving your feedback, whether it was positive, negative, or just plain nutty—Lucky Phil, I'm looking in your general direction—was incredibly gratifying. All in all, this site has given me some of the best times I've ever had.

Thank you, David, for this great opportunity. And thank you, dear readers, for all your support. I won't miss Jed. But I will miss you.

And, indeed, you can trust me.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • Dan b
    Fair winds and following seas. I always enjoyed your articles and felt like you could articulate my doubts and frustrations better than I. It's sad to see you go. You will be missed.
    Feb 2, 2016 at 5:26 AM
  • Lucky Phil
    Questions I ask myself. 1) What happened to Brandon Thomas? Did he get shot in a drive-by? 2) What happened to Jimmy T? I think I saw him at Subways rolling meatballs, can anyone confirm that? Please don't let that Son Of A Bitch roll the meatballs! 3) What happened at Chipotle? I went to lunch their last week, I can't step away from the toilet for longer than 5 minutes. I hear they are closing their doors for two hours in Feb. to "Discuss the Menu". After I heard that their stock price jumped 10%. 4) Who the f$#k is voting for Trump!!? You motherphuckers should be deported! 5) Sarah Palin?? WTF is she talking about!! 6) Hillary Clinton xxo. With an ass like that you know she's getting Kanye's vote. 7) What's the beef with Kanye and Wiz Khalifa, anyway? Can't us black people all just get along? Wait a minute I'm not black, I don't care. 8) When do the Oscars start? 9) Why did Kim Karadashian take an x-ray of her ass? She should get a CAT scan of her forehead and prove to me her brain isn't fake. 10) Why is Flint, Michigan drinking brown tap water? And who the hell told them that water was OK? Shit, My toilet water looks better than that. 11) God Damn what happened to my country?
    Jan 31, 2016 at 2:49 PM
  • NinerTy
    Thanks for saving us from having to read and hear your whiny crap about a team you claimed to support. When you support a team, which evidently is called being a fan, you ride and die with that team. You are not the owner, GM, or anyone else in administration. So, you live with the moves they make. But you want to win now! And if you don't, you will take your ball and go home! Good! Because when the Niners start to win again we won't have to deal with your little WHINY ASS!!!
    Jan 27, 2016 at 9:10 AM
  • EastCoast9er
    Round of applause
    Jan 27, 2016 at 6:20 AM
  • Hayward Niner fan
    I can't believe I wasted time reading this article. Fan is short for fanatic and you are not that. Glad you are done being a "fan." There are 31 other teams that can read your pointless articles.
    Jan 26, 2016 at 1:40 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Yea, I have a great joke. 9ers management.
    Jan 18, 2016 at 7:51 AM
  • Lucky Phil
    Does anyone have a good joke? Your not helping me out here. Well hell, you know what that means. I'll have another dumb joke, tommorrow, then.
    Jan 15, 2016 at 5:24 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    I'd also like to say, for people that misunderstand me, Chip is miles ahead of Jimmy T. Jimbo was the fat kid standing on the railroad tracks, waiting for the train. Think about it. For those of you that are a little slow, you might might want to count the seconds. You might surprise yourself today! On second thought just don't catch any [email protected]%[email protected] trains!
    Jan 15, 2016 at 12:48 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    My impression of Chip Kelly coaching the Eagles this year was a fat kid standing on railroad tracks playing "Don't Blink" with a locomotive... You Win Chip!
    Jan 15, 2016 at 12:33 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    Memorable Embraces of 2016 1. El Chapo "Hugging Sean Penn was like squeezing a bag of love in a field of burning cow dung". 2. Jed York "Hugging Chip Kelly is like squeezing a bag of S#$! Until it overflows with warmth and joy". 3. Chip Kelly "Hugging Jed York is like holding a flaccid penis, you just want to choke it to death because it's so useless". 4. Trent Baalke's wife "Hugging Trent Baalke is like squeezing a baseball bat, solid and dependable, and if I could snap his neck over my knee I would". 5. 49er Fans "Embracing the Niners is like Face Palming yourself with a bag of a horse s#$!"
    Jan 15, 2016 at 12:02 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    Niners screw up again, hire Kelly.
    Jan 14, 2016 at 11:31 AM
  • Nick
    I have been a Niner fan since 1981 and have seen and witnessed many niner memories good and bad. But I can relate with Jeff's article as I have now become non emotional about my beloved team. IMO the saddest day in niner history was Eddie stepping down as Owner and the York's taking over and ruining this once proud franchise. Nothing has changed with this team by firing Tomsula as he is simply the latest scapegoat with Baalke still employed as GM. I too have not seen the Niners play this season and have not invested my time and money on this team anymore. In sincere apologies are just that I reach out to other Niner faithful to not spend any more time and money on this team until real changes happen and it starts with the Yorks and their "yes man" Baalke.
    Jan 11, 2016 at 8:26 AM
  • Matot Maiocco
    In un-related news, Geep Chryst met with Baalke for his exit interview. Sources say the meeting went well. During the meeting Geep asked Trent, "How did I do?" Baalke's reply was, "Well, Your performance as OC has been consistent, in 1999 your Chargers ranked 30th in the league in offense, in 2000 - 29th and last yr. 31st in total offense. "Exactly" replied Geep. After a short 5 min meeting, Geep Chryst has accepted the position of HC for the S.F Forty-Niners.
    Jan 10, 2016 at 5:19 PM
  • Matt Maiocco
    For over six hours Lucky Phil has been in a meeting with the S.F Forty-Niners. Sources say Baalke has been impressed with Lucky's stamina, he has been kicking Jed in the ass for over two hours.
    Jan 10, 2016 at 4:43 PM
  • Blue Balls In Minnesota
    Ooh Shit.
    Jan 10, 2016 at 4:30 PM
  • Mr. Potato
    Feels good not to be a Bengals Fan
    Jan 10, 2016 at 1:32 PM
  • Seahawks Fan
    Don't bet against the Seahawks this weekend in Minnesota. When asked about the frigid weather in the northern state, Russell Wilson said, "Don't worry, I play better in cold weather". When Seahawks center, Patrick Lewis was asked why Russell is so confident, he replied, "Russell's big hands will help with the freezing temps ... but my balls still feel ice cold".
    Jan 8, 2016 at 6:44 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    To quote Neil Armstrong, "One small bowel movement for Lucky Phil, One humongous pile of [email protected]$# for mankind". Think about it, Jed. You need a big swinging dick in Santa Clara. And no one swings a bigger dick than me. Just get out of my way. LOL
    Jan 8, 2016 at 6:11 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    A short note to Jed. Hi there. Nice to see you at the comment boards, again. Now, there are some people that question my sincerity or senility, ok, but no one can question my passion for the Niners. They are my crack cocaine! I can't live without it. I tried but I just can't do it. So, Here's my reason for the note. Jed.You're going to Kill Me. You're seriously going to kill me. If we hire another Sing or Jimbo that's it I'm done! This team is killing Lucky Phil! Ok, so I'm offering my services for free. I can help, I know I joke around, but trust me I have keen eye for talent and I have a brilliant strategic mind. And I'm offering you my services for free. Yes, Free. I'm bringing my talent to Santa Clara. Just send an email to Kaplan, he knows how to get a hold of me. Follow me boys, I'm one bowel movement ahead of the curve.
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:12 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    For those of you fans wondering when ESPN would make a 30 for 30 documentary on the Niners changing of guard from "Jim to Him?". They are in production now. The working title is The Flaccid Penis and the Fluffer: The Rise and Fall of Jed York.
    Jan 8, 2016 at 2:34 PM
  • Lucky Phil
    A prerequisite for the next Head Coach of out beloved S.F Forty-Niners. 1) Lets make sure he can breathe through his nose. Maybe Jed can crawl across his desk and pinch our prospective HC's nose for a minute. If he can't use his nose, he's probably brain dead. We don't want that. 2) Does he believe God will show him the way? No, God will not show you the way! I want I guy that walks on water and shits gold bricks. I want a God, not a follower of Bullshit. 3) How do you lead a team? 4) How do you win respect? 5) Show me creativity and excellence. 6) Name a coach you worked with that you admire, what did you learn? 7) Who do you want to QB this team next year and why? 8) Are you another flaccid penis in the room or can we expect something more. 9) Drop your pants ... and Bend Over! Jed give me a call your too damn stupid to get this right.
    Jan 8, 2016 at 1:13 PM
  • 49ersJimmy
    Mr. Kaplan, I hope this is not your last post. You have been my favorite writer on this website. But good luck and don't give up your love for the 49ers!
    Jan 8, 2016 at 7:29 AM
  • Fresh
    Spot on article, but I dont agree w not being a fan anymore. But the thing is I dont have to. Its his choice, good for you for being honest. Wish you would still write articles but I get it, best of luck.
    Jan 8, 2016 at 3:33 AM
  • sanfran49erfan
    I can empathize with this article, because I too "quit" on the niners this year. I no longer watched the games or gave more than a flirting glance towards them after around week 5. The ownership threw my team away and if they weren't going to try, I wasnt investing. I'm nit gone for good, but this is the first year, ever, I didn't even realize it was the end of the year. Jedi York has made me not care, and that's frightening...
    Jan 7, 2016 at 9:11 PM
  • Terry B.
    Right, CJS, you moron. A real fan is someone who celebrates while the owner runs the team into the ground, fires successful coaches, and hires people like Mike Singletary and Jim Tomsula that no other team would even dream of making a head coach. Someone who cheerleads moves like that, now THAT's a real fan. Idiot.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 2:28 PM
  • Niner fan no more??
    You are getting a rough rap for saying how you feel in this article, but there have to be many more just like you out there. We need to ask, "what really is a fan?" I have loved the Niners since I was 10 years old but I found myself caring less and less this year what happened to them as a team. I have reached the point where I no longer allow myself to get emotionally invested in the team. I can' t do that to myself anymore. I can't care so much about something that someone else (York) is destroying. I can't invest my time, energy, or money into that, because if I do then I am rewarding Jed. I will read the headlines, I will follow all of their roster moves, I will follow their players performance, I will follow the teams successes and failures....but i will not return to being a fan (and all that that entails) until Jed proves to all of us that he is finally going to do what it takes to make the 49ers a winner again.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 1:19 PM
  • Dallas Niner Fan
    cynic, I'm right there with you brother.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 12:20 PM
  • Paul
    When they hired/promoted Jim T I was thinking you can't be serious. I feel for him, because a lot of players retired or were lost in free agency after he was hired. With the loss of talent it would have been hard for any coach to win 8 games. I give credit to York for a few things: 1) Realizing that Jim T can't turn this around, and not dragging this out for another year. 2) Hiring Jim Harbaugh York gets the blame for so many things: 1) Sticking by a GM rather than a great coach 2) Keeping a GM that is a big part of the current problem, 3) Leaking or not stopping the leaks. 4) Always talking about his uncle that seems to not be helping. 5) Never earning a real job. Jim Harbaugh is a strange and stubborn guy. His brother is more reasonable and doesn't wear out everybody as much. Jim Harbaugh hasn't won a championship in College or the NFL as a player or coach. I think his stubbornness will prevent him from a championship. If York can get someone that can turn around the team in a few years I'll feel he gets it, but for now I'm glad I have the NFL package so can switch around to watch interesting.
    Jan 7, 2016 at 11:07 AM
  • Zion Niner
    Jeff, I couldn't agree more. The years after Mariucci were a joke, and it took a long, hard fight to get the pro bowl level roster we had when they hired Harbaugh. Three NFC championship games, a Superbowl, then an 8-8 season and he gets kicked to the curb. Wow. Oh, and then the "JimmieT" season. Wow. And now Jed wants us to rewind the clock again and be nice little fans. I don't think so. I'm still a huge fan, love watching them, etc, but I aint spending a dime on the York cash cow until I see some real changes. The Yorks and Baalke can take a hike. Go Niners!
    Jan 7, 2016 at 10:45 AM
  • Scott Bennett
    Brutal Brutal Brutal and spot on in every sense of the words. Thanks
    Jan 7, 2016 at 9:31 AM

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