Jed York

49ers’ demise not just the fault of Jed, Trent, Jimmy Tom and Kap

Paraag Marathe 49ers

Jed York is getting so much grief on Twitter these days (and that’s putting it as nicely as possible). A couple weeks ago I clicked one of his retweets about some tech conference, and in his mentions I noticed that a photo I took of Jed at the “mutual parting” press conference had been turned into more than one meme.

After feeling like a bit of a lone wolf earlier this year, howling at the blogosphere moon that Trent Baalke is bulletproof and that probably shouldn’t be the case, everyone else seems to have come around. Baalke is definitely on the hot seat, or at least that’s how it’s perceived outside of Santa Clara.

No one outside of the organization takes Jim Tomsula seriously. Colin Kaepernick was benched over two weeks ago (props once again to Kyle McLorg for breaking what became a huge national story).

These four men are taking the brunt. But what about the others with power in the organization? Maybe it’s time to shift the spotlight to Paraag Marathe, along with Jed’s parents, John and Denise.

John York used to be the main spokesperson for this franchise, and 49ers fans couldn’t stand him. He was the one who pushed out Bill Walsh, pinched pennies, and presided over a team that sunk to the bottom of the NFC. Denise — who technically owns the team — never speaks publicly. Marathe is the silent man behind the scenes with draft value charts and salary cap spreadsheets.

The evening that McLorg’s story set the NFL world ablaze was an interesting one. It got even more so when @SoCaliSteph, a writer for Niners Nation, started explaining what she’s heard from her sources within the organization. Then Ray Ratto added his two cents, and I started researching Marathe. Before we get to that last part, here’s Steph:

(That’s Mike Florio, the lead editor of Pro Football Talk.)

 

 

Marathe was routinely pilloried by Ralph Barbieri and others in the mid-2000s. The public disdain reached a fever pitch when it was learned that Mike Nolan put him in charge of calling for replay challenges. This led Matt Maiocco (then the 49ers beat writer for the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat) to defend the decision a year later when Marathe was performing the same task for Mike Singletary.

Marathe has impressed quite a few people with his intelligence and attention to detail, most notably the Yorks. This Marathe profile piece, written in 2005 by Kevin Lynch for SFGate, is fascinating.

Marathe (pronounced mah-RAH-tay) became the unwitting victim of what many perceived as co-owner John York’s NFL ignorance. It’s a fact this business consultant from San Jose, via Cal and Stanford, impressed York after then- general manager Terry Donahue brought him in and was a big influence on the coaching search. But he is not expected to play a major role, as yet, in the organization.

Still, there was cause for wonder, when York didn’t lean on someone such as personnel consultant Bill McPherson, who has been working for the 49ers for the past 24 years and has a 50-year association with football, to find and hire a head coach. Instead, York chose Marathe and assistant director of football administration Terry Tumey to assist him.

Wait, there’s more!

The industrious Marathe won the admiration of York, a licensed pathologist who admittedly relied heavily on his business background (running laboratories and race tracks) to steer his ownership of the 49ers.

“John is a scientist,” a source close to York said on the condition of anonymity. “He loves proofs and statistical models.”

In his projects, Marathe created graphs and charts that impressed York. After working with the 49ers for 18 months, Marathe befriended Jed York, John’s eldest son. Seemingly, as the 23-year-old Jed became more visible at the 49ers’ headquarters, eventually joining high-level meetings, so did Marathe.

Marathe’s ascension coincided with the departure of Walsh and director of football operations John McVay, which could have been more than a coincidence. Privately, neither liked the statistical approach Donahue espoused. Marathe and his computer shot down Walsh and McVay’s trade proposals during the 2003 draft. This didn’t sit well with either man, who had built the 49ers’ success partly on their impulses.

Contacted recently, Walsh didn’t want to comment on the team’s direction.

“Can a computer help determine who you pick on draft day?” Walsh asked. “I don’t know, maybe it can.”

Donahue also declined to comment.

As Walsh’s influence faded, Donahue’s system, which he kept secret for the most part, took root. Donahue and York allowed Marathe to hire interns to watch film and provide the scouting department with new statistics on players.

But Dennis Erickson’s old-school coaches weren’t informed of these hires. So they walked past Marathe’s interns “breaking down” film and wondered what was going on.

In the meantime, Donahue instituted a “tick” system whereby coaches and scouts had to dole out ticks in their player evaluations and then a percentage was determined. Ticks were earned on production — the number of catches made compared to passes thrown, the number of blocks executed, the number of tackles made when a player was in position to tackle.

Thus, it could be said that a linebacker made a tackle 83 percent of the time he had the opportunity.

Some scouts and coaches found the information useless and a distraction from actually evaluating what the player could do.

Meanwhile, York was making cuts to nearly every department, and seemingly the only area that was expanding belonged to Marathe.

Paraag MaratheHold on, still not quite finished …

In fact, personnel only consumes a quarter of his duties, Marathe said. Most of his time is spent on salary-cap analysis.

Nevertheless, Marathe was asked by York to lead the head-coaching research, and his profile skyrocketed.

Marathe studied 120 coaches to determine where the most successful NFL coaches come from, and what makes them excel once they have the job. Along with other factors, Marathe discovered that coaches who were with successful teams and worked with winning coaches made the best future coach.

The 49ers’ short list of candidates was determined partly by Marathe’s criteria. The interview process included a meal with John and Jed York, and then a sit-down with John York, Marathe and Tumey. York ultimately determined the next man to lead the 49ers.

York said Marathe was involved in the head-coaching interviews because York trusted him. Marathe had helped billion-dollar corporations hire CEO’s when he was at Bain, and like it or not, an NFL head coach must have CEO characteristics in today’s NFL.

It might have been assumed Marathe would influence York to hire a coach who embraced Marathe’s statistical program. Of the five candidates, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was the most enamored of statistical analysis and Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan the least.

Nolan was hired, and even though Marathe will have significant say in salary-cap matters, he’s not the power broker many assumed he would be when he was included in the interview process.

“I think Paraag is clearly the salary-cap person and negotiator, I don’t think at this point in time that Paraag has the experience to be the general manager,” York said. “I think over time that he could.”

So many interesting tidbits on Marathe and his relationship with the Yorks are in Lynch’s story.

— Marathe is the last remaining piece of Donahue’s 49ers legacy. Donahue was known for spending more time in Southern California than in the Bay Area during his tenure as GM, as well as some awful drafts and free agent signings.

— Marathe became buddies with young Jed as both men became more involved with front office decision-making, or were at least present during meetings where such decisions were made.

— Walsh and McVay, only two of the strongest minds in franchise history, didn’t appear to be all that enamored with Marathe’s methods.

— Dr. York was slashing the budget, but he protected Marathe (whose job was — and is — to figure out ways to save the team money, by hiring the right head coaches and keeping a watchful eye on the team’s cap situation).

— Dr. York didn’t let Marathe pick the coach in ’05, but he thought that “over time” he could gain the experience required to be the team’s general manager.

(Hold up. I just realized something.)

If Baalke gets fired after this season — an unlikely event, but one that’s certainly possible if the team goes further into the tank and the younger players he drafted don’t show much improvement — it isn’t out of the realm that Marathe would replace Baalke and become the 49ers President AND General Manager.

From 49ers.com:

He is the club’s chief contract negotiator and salary cap architect, and also runs the team’s football analytics efforts. He is responsible for the 49ers compliance with the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement and works closely with general manager Trent Baalke on all aspects of the club’s football operations.

Marathe has played an integral role in helping the 49ers maintain a solid veteran nucleus, negotiating contract extensions in recent years with a number of key players, including QB Colin Kaepernick, DT Glenn Dorsey, All-Pros LB NaVorro Bowman, TE Vernon Davis and T Joe Staley. Additionally, Marathe’s work during free agency has helped to land accomplished veteran players, such as S Antoine Bethea, RB Reggie Bush, K Phil Dawson and WR Torrey Smith.

The Yorks clearly love Marathe, and it’s been over 10 years since Dr. York made those comments, plenty of time to gain the experience necessary (according to the Yorks, anyway). He’s been with the team since Mariucci, and throughout that time, through the Erickson, Nolan, Singletary, Harbaugh and Tomsula years, Marathe has continued his rise and gained more power since joining the team in 2001.

Jed certainly deserves some blame for how things ended with Harbaugh, and for his tunnel vision when it came to replacing Harbaugh with Tomsula. Baalke deserves some blame: as the percentage of players acquired during under his watch has increased, the quality of the roster and the club’s record has continued to sink. Tomsula deserves some blame, because not only has the team gotten blown out several times (the 49ers have the worst point differential in the league), but he goes conservative when they’re down by multiple scores for no reason other than to keep the losses semi-respectable. Kaepernick deserves some blame, even though the 49ers ruined him, because he’s the highest-paid player on the team and was completely unproductive in half of his starts this season.

But what about Marathe, who rarely goes on the record but seems to have a lot of power within an organization that has very few real power players? It’s hard to know exactly what he’s been responsible for in the last two tumultuous seasons — whether he had a hand in getting rid of Harbaugh, whether he’s either in charge of leaking information to reporters or someone who delivers the Yorks’ chosen messages to the press, whether he’s already kind of a co-GM with Baalke already, as it would appear from Marathe’s bio on the team’s website. All we know is there’s been a lot of blame to spread around, and Marathe (along with Jed’s parents) have kind of skated through this without much negative attention. Kaepernick has shouldered more than his fair share. Baalke’s performance is getting questioned. Jed’s Twitter mentions are a dumpster fire. Tomsula is coaching for next season, starting on Sunday. Meanwhile, Marathe’s job appears to be very, very safe.

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30 Comments on "49ers’ demise not just the fault of Jed, Trent, Jimmy Tom and Kap"

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PunisherSF
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PunisherSF

God help us…

StillLookingFor6
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StillLookingFor6

So when does Paraag officially becomes the owner of the team?

MrJustinLee2Usir
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MrJustinLee2Usir

Very nice piece…
There is a trend to all of this, and that’s that blame keeps climbing upwards. Inevitably it will reach the York Sr.’s.
A true owner that wants nothing more than to just say she owns the team at table conversations, and a co-owner who wants nothing more than profit spikes.
The Santa Clara 49ers are one of the worst franchises in the history of the game.

Compton Red
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Compton Red

Don’t forget it was the same website run by Florio that leaked the “Harbaugh might be traded to the Browns” story that came out of nowhere and was the first rumbling of any discontent.
Ran Bill Walsh and Jim Harbaugh out of the 49er organization. What a resume!

Otis Byrd III
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Otis Byrd III

So basically, Paraag Marathe, Ralph Barbieri’s boy *sarcasm*, is a snake?

Not going to lie, the 49ers organization is pretty much full of snakes now

BernadetteMJDelaCruz
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BernadetteMJDelaCruz
— Chryst should not be an offensive coordinator. He called for a Reggie Bush (golly, what an impact he made today) carry up the middle on 3rd-and-11 today … in the third quarter when the 49ers still had a chance. — The 49ers knew their offensive line was going to be terrible, and they didn’t add one starting-caliber offensive lineman this offseason. Blame Anthony Davis all you want. They know better than anyone that he’s the kind of guy who might bail on the team at any momen…t. They drafted him. Intelligent teams plan for relative catastrophes like Davis’ retirement.… Read more »
DavidAnderson10
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DavidAnderson10

This is depressing… But hey they have a stadium that can host Taylor Swift, Wrestlemania, the Super Bowl and the College football playoffs…

Slam
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Slam

if we agree with the premise that “an nfl coach must have CEO characteristics …”, then of course they hire Tomsula.

What a frikkin clown show.

Slam
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Slam

Modern day analytics and old school NFL scouting are both valuable. Not an either-or thing for winning organizations.

Dudeman21
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Dudeman21

*Insert Keanu Reeves meme* What if Paraag Marathe is actually a computer program invented by Jed York in order to provide the media with leaks complete with spreadsheets and Power Points?

49erholics_PhD
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49erholics_PhD

Paraag Marathe (pronounced meh-RAT-tay) is right at home undermining whomever he is told or decides to undermine for himself. If the team loses out or wins maybe one more game total, Trent simply MUST be let go or demoted within that FO cesspool. I would be curious to know what kind of status Tom Gamble has within the building. Is he ascending or a non-factor?

Beaver
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Beaver

BASG, you had me at Terry Donahue.

xx_hgm4683_xx
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xx_hgm4683_xx
If that’s true then you better stay away from stadium and your tv because Niners are going on a bullet train road to bottom once more for the upcoming decade. Analytics is a crucial asset to build around a team but if he doesn’t have “knowledge” for evaluate talent as a scout then its useless. Even Baalke had failed to recognize some talent who passed over him and he already has expirience as scout then how is gonna be things if Marathe takes the GM position. They only bright side on this would be that Tomsula’s staff would stay another… Read more »
TonyHolder
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TonyHolder

Slam  gave me the best laugh of the week. congratulation.

Alexs987
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Alexs987

If this is all true and marathe’s main responsibilities have been to structure salary cap figures than i think he saved the team from the possibility of Kap getting much more guaranteed money. As for Harbaugh as much as it sucked watching him get kicked out, everyone knew he wasnt a long term option. It was pretty clear when his own brother even told stories about how when they were kids Jim would loose all his friends and they would move and start over. It was in Jims blood to be a nomad.

Alexs987
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Alexs987

I wonder if Marathe was a key contributor in the 2012 draft. As much as Balke has stunk it up lately 2012 was horrible even for his standards

Otis Byrd III
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Otis Byrd III

Alexs987 Oh wow, never knew that.
I think Jim Harbaugh has found a home in Michigan though. It’s his alma mater, he likes it there, he has total control there. If Michigan becomes a consistent winner with him there, I don’t see him leaving Michigan, even though I’m sure NFL teams will inquire about him from time to time.

Underdog7a
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Underdog7a
It says in the article “Marathe discovered that coaches who were with successful teams and worked with winning coaches made the best future coach”. Based on that observation there was actually a spreadsheet that spit out that Tomsula was the best future coach?????? I guess he worked so well with Harbaugh for 4 years that it trumped all the other mediocre to bad teams he was associated with???? I guess maybe Harbaugh got marked down on the spreadsheet for not recently (49ers, Stanford, San Diego) having “worked” with a winning coach, since he was the winning coach???? I think that… Read more »
InsaneFreak2
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InsaneFreak2

Take a look at 49ers.fancam.com (360 panoramic photo of Oct 22 Seahawks game) – zoom into the coaches booth on the suite tower right above where it says “Home” (of the 49ers).  Paraag and Trent are sitting right next to each other.  Are they calling in plays or what?

MilpitasNinerGuy
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MilpitasNinerGuy

Just took the Levis tour. The guide said that Baalke sits in the coaches’ booth on game day. I thought that was weird.

707AllDay
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707AllDay

Wondered the same thing. Not just 2012, but in general. How does the decision making dynamic work between he and Baalke when it comes to free agents and drafts? It sounds like he’s not just a salary numbers guy, he quantifies player’s performance for talent valuations. How did he grade Vance McDonald, Marcus Martin, Tank Catharine etc? How did he grade Justin Smith, Bowman, Aldon, Bathea? Baalke makes the final call, but it sounds like he is on board w Marathe, or he is taking marching orders and encorporating his analysis on personnel decisions. The line is blurry.

coredump
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coredump

MilpitasNinerGuy  Probably not totally unheard-of, but yeah it does seem a little odd.

zinnsand21
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zinnsand21

Great stuff. You never hear anything about the front office internal workings other than York and Baalke. I automatically don’t like a guy who tries to pick winners based on measurable stats. Those who have the ability to see the good ones (Belichick, Carroll, Arians) see it in their play not on a chart. If Marathe becomes GM, unless he is extremely lucky and his charts lead him blindly to players, the franchise is headed for a long long drought..

SmartAsinine
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SmartAsinine

If the 49ers sign StackJack to a big contract we will know that Paraag is in charge.

THEShoePimp
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THEShoePimp

This dude should be fired based solely on his HORRIFIC replay challenge recommendations. Marathe may be a really smart guy, but he’s an idiot.

neethouse
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neethouse
somewhere i read, maybe here, that this type of guy is the future if not the current trend. i think guys like Billy Beane made it interesting for utilizing statistics over instincts and in football where salary cap matters, there are no alternative routes. jumping to another comparison, the patriots have been successful going this route, which is hard to argue the success, but where’s the success here? the pats have many no namers who were well coached-up, but they also have big names like Brady and Gronk and unsung heroes like Chandler and McCourty. who has Parrag found for… Read more »
MarkLopez2
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MarkLopez2

There isn’t one smart football guy in this whole organization. Just a bunch of yes men and York stooges. Once Harbaugh left, the corporate yokels took over and this garbage is what you end up with.

trackback
Member

[&#8230 ;] HAHAHA they would never do that! OK, they might do that. Sorry for bringing it up. Again. [&#8230 ;]

trackback
Member

[&#8230 ;] I don&#8217 ;t think Baalke is going to last through next week (I&#8217 ;ve been predicting a promotion for Tom Gamble for months). But these are the Yorks! So anything is possible, including Jed naming Paraag Marathe as Baalke&#8217 ;s replacement. [&#8230 ;]

trackback
Member

[&#8230 ;] was written last November, a few days after I openly questioned why Marathe wasn&#8217 ;t getting the same kind of scrutiny for the 49ers&#8217 ; decline as Jed, Baalke, or Jim [&#8230 ;]

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