When you finally emerged, you told us you were ready for the backlash. After all, it's just part of the job. When you're president of the Niners, you said, "sometimes you need to take shots personally."

Well, Jed, this is certainly one of those times.

Oh, I knew it wouldn't be easy. You had to complete two difficult tasks. In explaining Scot McCloughan's departure, you had to show us you had a good reason, without conveying the reason itself (clearly a skeleton in McCloughan's closet). And in addressing the future, you had to show us you had a good plan, without making promises you couldn't deliver.

Nope, not easy. But hey, you're president of the Niners. You've got a draft in a month, and a stadium vote in two. You'd come this far with your pleasant demeanor and PR savvy, but now you needed to show us more. You had to show us some substance behind your style. You had to show us the leader you are.

So how'd you do, you ask?

Not well, Jed. Not well.

The McCloughan stuff wasn't ALL bad. There was nothing wrong with taking what was clearly a firing and dressing it up as a "mutual parting"; it's a bit dishonest, but when you appreciate what your employee's done, you give him the chance to save some face. And though you seemed a bit cold when you declined to define his legacy (how 'bout the legacy of leading us to respectability out of Donahue's darkness?), you sounded great when you expressed your affection and wished him and his family the best.

But here's how you should've said it. "A personal issue recently arose to drive a wedge between Scot and the organization, and we agreed that a mutual parting would be to our mutual benefit. Obviously out of respect for Scot's privacy I can't reveal the nature of the personal issue, but on behalf of the organization I'd like to express my thanks for Scot's efforts and wish him and his family the best."

Or something like that.

Instead, sounding like you'd been told to stick to a poorly written script, you repeatedly deemed the issue "a private personnel matter." It's a weird phrase without an obvious meaning, and you were immediately asked whether you meant "a private PERSONAL matter." You insisted the right word was "personnel," going so far as to correct a talk-show host who'd said "personal." Yet you conceded the exit was for "personal matters" and wouldn't have happened for "personnel reasons."

You see why we were confused, don't you? McCloughan was a member of the Niners' personnel, but his primary task was to hire OTHER personnel. So when you said "a private personnel matter," we couldn't tell whether the personnel at issue was McCloughan himself or the personnel he'd hired. When you (sort of) clarified he'd left for "personal matters" and not "personnel reasons," you (sort of) confirmed the issue was McCloughan himself. But then you were left with the peculiar official position that this was "a private personnel (not personal) matter" that was based on "personal matters" (not "personnel reasons").

Good lord, Jed. I know you were only trying to be tactful, but I doubt that even YOU could understand what you were saying. You didn't come off as strong, sure, or even particularly smart. You looked like a kid with something to hide. A kid who was trying to fool us. A kid who shouldn't be trusted.

Worse was your explanation of why you stayed silent for five days while speculation was out of control. You said you'd promised McCloughan that silence, and you proudly reported your "integrity is more important to [you] than trying to get out a story." But when a talk-show host smartly asked what those five days were FOR, you could only stumble around: "Just to figure out how, the uh, you know, the mutual separation was gonna take place."

Look, Jed, we're not stupid. We know you spent those days hammering out a settlement of McCloughan's contract. That's just business. But when you run a tight ship, you're always out in FRONT of the story. You settle your business BEFORE it breaks. You show us, again, you know what you're doing.

On your first task, you didn't. And on your second, it only got worse.

Again, it wasn't ALL bad. Obviously, our first concern was the draft, and you strongly assured us that you were "prepared." You told us our board was virtually set and Trent Baalke was ready to run it. Those were credible assertions, delivered with confidence; as far as the draft goes, you put a lot of us at ease.

But next came the big question: what then? Who would be your next general manager? You did well to say it wouldn't be Mike Singletary, Paraag Marathe, or yourself. But then you said, strangely: "I haven't decided on whether we're going to have a general manager."

Sorry. Did you say you "haven't decided"?

On the radio, you explained. "There aren't 32 people in the league" who have all a GM's qualifications, "not just a personnel piece, but the understanding of, you know, contract negotiations, the market for players, ... the business aspect of sports." So you can't assume you'll find such a guy; instead, you'll get through the draft, and then you'll figure out "what's the right structure." "We need to make sure that we have the right structure in place to be successful in the future."

All this brought on a couple of questions. First, Jed, if you think a GM must have all that, why did you give McCloughan the job? After all, Marathe's your contract and salary-cap guy; either your view of a GM's a little restrictive, or you just admitted you blew it with Scot.

Second, can't this franchise just pick a structure and go with it? Think about it. In 2004, we had a GM over a head coach. In 2005, we had a head coach over a "vice president of player personnel." In 2008, we went back to a GM over a head coach. And now we've got a "director of player personnel" AND a head coach, with neither really over the other, and no idea what's coming next.

Can't you just FEEL the "championship culture"?

But you weren't done, Jed. You were just about to break my heart: "If there's a future Hall of Fame general manager that's out there on the market, it's certainly something you'd think about. [But] I doubt that a future Hall of Fame general manager is gonna be on the street."

Seriously, Jed, you just kill me.

Back in December, Mike Holmgren was on the street. He might not've been a "Hall of Fame general manager," but he'd clearly be an elite "football czar," "head of football operations," whatever. He lived in northern California, and he had those roots in Niners glory. Most of us thought that hiring him would be "certainly something you'd think about." But you said you certainly wouldn't.

And now that he's the czar of the Browns--and Mike Shanahan's the czar of the 'Skins--you fire your GM and tell us, oh well, "I doubt that a future Hall of Fame general manager is gonna be on the street."

And isn't that just like this franchise under the Yorks, these accidental owners. Other franchises make the bold moves, and ours is left behind. We watch as the top names go to other teams--the top executives, the top coaches, the top players available by trade or free agency--while we just sit, trying to figure out "what's the right structure." Spinning in circles, again and again.

For a decade, we'd watched the Yorks botch one move after another. Time after time, they'd acted without sensitivity, without discretion, without a clear vision. In short, without professionalism. Yes, THAT'S the word. In the Mariucci/Erickson transition, in the Nolan/Singletary transition, and indeed in the DeBartolo/York transition, they'd looked--more than anything else--like amateurs.

This was your moment, Jed. Your chance to show us you're truly different. Instead you just showed us more of the same, another episode of The York Family Amateur Hour.

A decade in, the show goes on, no end in sight.