San Francisco 49ers: York, Baalke Getting What They Paid For


The San Francisco 49ers have muddled through a miserable season in part because Jed York refuses to pay for coaching talent.

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The San Francisco 49ers – and most especially, their fans – are learning the hard way that there is truth to the old idiom that you get what you pay for. After watching their team go to three straight NFC Championship games – and one Super Bowl – internal discord and more drama than your average soap opera helped the team slip to 8-8 in 2014.

That was the justification that Jed York and Trent Baalked used to jettison head coach Jim Harbaugh thereby consolidating their own power base – which of course helped pave the way for this season’s complete debacle. The 49ers currently sit at 4-11 and there is a very strong likelihood that the team is going to finish out 2015 with a less than sizzling 4-12 mark.

With anger and discontent sweeping through the 49ers faithful – and no doubt their email filling up with the expression of sentiments not suitable for print – York’s new explanation for why he threw Harbaugh out with the trash was that he was making too much money.

San Jose Mercury News writer Tim Kawakami Tweeted out a few thoughts about York’s handling of the 49ers and the fact that he’s steered the ship straight onto the rocks.

Was Harbaugh’s staff expensive? Perhaps. But were Harbaugh and his staff really that much more expensive than any other in the league? After all, the $5 million dollars a year Harbaugh was earning didn’t even put him inside the top ten highest paid coaches in the league.

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Instead, the York/Baalke regime opted to go with the untested and unproven Jim Tomsula to lead this team. And he’s led them nowhere other than to what will very likely turn out to be their worst record since going 4-12 back in 2005.

And according to York, they made the move from a successful franchise to the absolute abomination they’ve become simply because it was more – cost effective.

The truth of the matter though, is that by ejecting Harbaugh and bringing in Tomsula, the organization saved themselves a whopping total of $1.5 million dollars. Tomsula is making $3.5 million dollars and for that staggering savings in salary, the 49ers have become an absolute mess.

Granted, the state of disrepair the 49ers currently find themselves in isn’t all of Tomsula’s making. The retirement of players – and Baalke’s questionable handling of free agents and the draft – have certainly done a lot to damage the team San Francisco is putting on the field.

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  • But Tomsula and his coordinators – Geep Chryst and Eric Mangini – have done a poor job of maximizing the talent they do have. While this team as it is currently constructed was never really a threat to win a Super Bowl, they should have enough talent to win more than four games. Tomsula’s biggest selling point for getting the head coaching job seemed to be that his ego is far smaller than Harbaugh’s and he wasn’t a threat to rock the boat the way his predecessor did.

    Regardless of what York and/or Baalke say, the decision to dump Harbaugh was never about money. The savings of $1.5 million dollars in the salary between Tomsula and Harbaugh is – in NFL terms – peanuts. The 49ers are the league’s fifth most valuable team, it’s current value sitting at $2.7 billion dollars. That’s billion, with a capital B.

    In comparison to that current valuation, $1.5 million is insignificant.

    The reason Harbaugh and the 49ers – ahem – “mutually parted” is simple. And it had less to do with Harbaugh’s ego and attitude than it had to do with York and Baalke’s need for affirmation and applause. Jed York and Trent Baalke wanted more recognition. They wanted their egos stroked and wanted to be known as the reason San Francisco returned to glory.

    Make no mistake, Harbaugh has a pretty healthy ego and likely isn’t always the easiest person to get along with. But he’s a good coach and he knows how to win. It was the combined egos of York and Baalke that grew out of proportion. It was their combined egos that pushed Harbaugh out the door. And it was their combined egos that has led the 49ers to the abyss they’re currently mired in.

    San Francisco is a dumpster fire. And what makes it worse is that they don’t seem to have a coherent plan to put it out and get back to the business of winning. And that’s not going to change anytime soon unless York is held accountable for the mess he’s created – something he challenged fans to do. Though even on that point, York seems to be backtracking.

    Next: 49ers' Season of Woes Continues

    If the 49ers are going to find their way back to relevance, York and Baalke must find a coach who knows how to win at this level and not simply somebody who can be bent to their will. Tomsula was dealt a bad hand and put in an impossible situation. It’s not necessarily his fault that he’s not a good fit or that he’s overmatched. He was simply the guy who said everything York and Baalke wanted to hear.

    If the 49ers are going to find their way back to relevance, York and Baalke need to either find a way to be comfortable in the background rather than the spotlight, or find their way out of the San Francisco front office.