27 Desember 2010

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49ers: Jed York’s GM-coach progression (targeting Harbaugh?), Singletary’s “unanswered questions”

From TV highlights, York looked as focused and angry as he did yesterday in the 49ers’ locker room, which is not a bad thing at all.
Sometimes the only way drastic changes–and admissions of major errors–can get made is when the No. 1 guy gets infuriated by the situation and steps forward to take responsibility for a housecleaning, damn the feelings of those in the building.
However, in exact reverse of 2005, when Jed was part of a committee that hired Mike Nolan as coach first then let Nolan hire Scot McCloughan as his personnel exec…
This time Jed is strongly and suddenly emphasizing the need to hire a GM first, then let the GM hire the coach.
Which obviously would seem to put the coach in a subsidiary role, whether you’re talking about true roster power or face-o’-team imagery.
Not a wrong idea, by any means. In the big new complicated NFL landscape, this is the way most successful teams do it–the GM provides the template and he finds the coach who can match and amplify his beliefs and provides him with the talent to fit it.
The 49ers have recently gone the all-powerful-coach route, and multiplied the error by giving that full power to untested coaches–Nolan and Mike Singletary.
Oops. So the GM-first mode is not, on its face, a signal of further 49ers doom.
However, Part 2: The 49ers are a team that seems to need more than just a strong GM. They really, really, really are crying for a strategic, aggressive, multi-dimensional coach. (Sean Payton/Raheem Morris/John Harbaugh model.)

This is a big debate pont, but Jed and I agree on one thing: The 49ers have talent. At least enough to win the NFC West. At least that much.
If you assume they have talent at LB, on the DL, young talent on the OL, and at RB, TE and WR… What they need maybe more than anything is a great offensive coach to pick a QB and re-make that horrible offense.
Point of fact: The guys who absolutely are proven QB-experts tend to demand and receive GM-like-power deals in the NFL, the way Andy Reid has always had it in Philadelphia, Mike Shanahan had it in Denver and now in Washington, and Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.
(Also the way Nolan, certainly NOT a QB-friendly coach, had it with the 49ers in 2005. Ridiculous that he got the power, thanks to the committee composed of John and Jed York, Terry Tumey and Paraag Marthe, but he did.)
But I also think Jed wants a big-name QB-expert. I think he wants either Harbaugh or Gruden, if Mike Holmgren is staying in Cleveland (and I’d believe Holmgren is staying).
So I wonder… could the names being tossed out so far–Ted Sundquist, Floyd Reese, Randy Mueller, current 49ers exec Trent Baalke–none of whom have obvious ties to either Gruden or Harbaugh–possibly be just a busywork list, until the real candidates are free to talk at the end of the season?
No doubt, Jed could be wowed by any of the initial-list guys, or maybe they have a strong tie to a QB-monster coach that I do not know of or maybe Jed isn’t thinking a step ahead and about corralling Gruden or Harbaugh.
But again, I think he is. I think he knows he has to make a ruckus with this one, and not just a Singletary Yelling Ruckus.
So maybe there’s a second and third wave of candidates. Maybe Jed already knows who they are, because he has been quietly investigating who Gruden and/or Harbaugh would want lined up as their GM in a shared-power situation.
That would possibly include people like:
-Mike Lombardi (associated with both men);
-Tom Heckert (former Philadelphia and current Cleveland GM, but under Holmgren in the hierarchy, some ties to Gruden and worked with Harbaugh’s brother, John, who I believe will advise Jim in this regard);
-And George Kokanis (in Baltimore with John).
Summary: I could be wrong. Jed could be planning to hire a GM and have no aspirations for a coach other than to let his GM pluck his own guy. But if I know Jed, I think there’s a little more to this.
Or maybe Baalke is secret buddies with Gruden and he’s the guy to bring Chucky to the 49ers. I doubt it. We’ll see.
—On a slightly different tack…
In his final post-game press conference yesterday, when I asked him if this season was a personal failure for him, Singletary interestingly mentioned “question marks” that weren’t answered this season.
These are not secrets, I’m sure.
* Alex Smith obviously is one of them. Didn’t work out.
That’s a lot on Smith, but even more on Singletary, who didn’t have the right offensive coordinator, didn’t have the right thought-process to help a QB, and never thought the QB was that important, anyway.
* David Carr, too. Brilliant move there.
* Nate Davis. Probably both his and Singletary’s fault. And maybe Davis just isn’t very good.