Well then. So much for continuity.

Oh, don't get me wrong. If you know me at all, you know my views on continuity. Continuity for the sake of continuity is no better than change for the sake of change. By all means, if what you've got is smart and innovative, continue it. But if it's not--and if you wanna succeed--you can't be afraid. You've gotta change it.

Of the Niners' many weak links, Scot McCloughan was never the weakest. Don't forget how this franchise looked when he first arrived. In 2004, thanks of course to Terry Donahue, the Niners had almost no discernable talent. Without shrewd personnel moves, we easily could've gone a decade or more with no discernable hope. Yet only five years later, we emerged with a consistently competitive team that with a couple of breaks--and with smarter coaching--easily would've won 10 games and a division title.

In that emergence, no one was more important than McCloughan. Everything that's exciting about this team--Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, Aubrayo Franklin, Ahmad Brooks, even Nate Davis--is here because McCloughan brought him here.

We owe this guy a serious debt. But--depending on what we end up with--his exit doesn't bother me at all.

As much as we should appreciate how McCloughan took us from awful to average, that was actually the easy part. The challenge will be in the NEXT step--from average to good--and McCloughan just didn't seem up to it. In five years, he never found a backup for Gore or a reliable secondary. He proudly declared that he wouldn't spend big cash on guards--his personal version of Moneyball--and his inability to draft them has produced the league's worst offensive line. His near-total washout of a draft in '08--think he'd take DeSean Jackson over Balmer or Rachal NOW?--was Donahue all over again. And in '09, he released not one but TWO viable kick-returners, a decision so breathtakingly stupid that it cost us our top corner, and perhaps even the playoffs.

And then, of course, there's Alex Smith. With a big push from his boss, McCloughan spent a #1 pick on a passer who couldn't drop back while reading a D, and we've paid for that mistake ever since. In his desperation to see some return on that investment, McCloughan simply refused to move on, and for five years, at the game's most important position, we've been as weak as any team in the league. (And still are, despite the addition of a certain SECOND #1 pick.)

I myself was ready for change. Jed York, however, was not. There he was in December, telling the world he was "fully in Scot's corner." There he was in January, watching Mike Shanahan go to the Redskins after Mike Holmgren had gone to the Browns.

And here he is in March, apparently firing Scot McCloughan.

Like I said, I was ready for change. But Jed, I think you owe us an explanation.

What happened?

McCloughan's agent told us he wouldn't resign, and with all the money he's owed, why would he? So that must mean he was fired (or, as the more politically correct among us have offered, he was given "an extended leave of absence"). Yet it's also reported that he was fired not because of how he did his job, but because of "a personal matter." And indeed, a pending divorce was discovered, and he admitted that he'd "lost sight" of his family.

I'm sorry about McCloughan's personal turmoil. But if the Niners thought he'd been capably doing his job despite it, why on earth would they FIRE him for it? And with a draft only a few weeks out, why on earth would they fire him NOW?

But really, an explanation of what happened isn't nearly as important as an explanation of something else. An explanation of what's GONNA happen.

What's the plan, Jed? McCloughan's top deputies, Tom Gamble and Trent Baalke (the latter of whom reportedly will lead us through the coming draft), are experienced and respected enough, though neither holds the street cred of a Shanny or Holmgren. YOUR top deputy, on the other hand, is Paraag Marathe; his Stanford MBA's impressive, and he knows his way around a salary cap, but the thought of him choosing a right tackle is enough to make most of us wretch.

And then, of course, there's the most wretched possibility of all: Mike Singletary, coach and general manager.

Please, Jed, no. Not again. Not another overmatched coach with personnel powers to boot. We're talking about a Hall of Fame linebacker who wouldn't have drafted Patrick Willis. That should be all you need to know; don't let this man near your draft board.

But there's a bigger issue, Jed. See all this speculating we're doing? See all this worry? It's because of you, and your inexcusable silence.

Even when change is a good idea, you've gotta finish the job. You can't just fire someone. You've gotta have a plan to replace him. You've gotta show us you know what you're doing.

Remember Steve Mariucci? Despite his success, a lot of us wanted him gone. Donahue obliged, but then he proved he had no Plan B. After wandering around in the dark for a while, he ended up with retread Dennis Erickson, and by sheer coincidence, we haven't had a winning season since.

We know you want us to trust you, Jed. We know why you so often choose to drop your uncle's name. You're telling us that you're not your father. You're telling us that you understand us, that you're one of us, that we can trust you. And trust me, Jed; we WANT to trust you. After what we've been through, we desperately want to.

But when it comes to leadership, nothing breeds distrust like silence.

We need you to speak. No, we don't need the details of McCloughan's personal life, if that's what your silence is geared to protect. We just need to know the plan. The longer you wait, the longer you hide, the more we doubt you have one.

And perhaps irrevocably, the less we trust you.

Come out, come out, Jed. Wherever you are.