On Jan. 28, 2016 — about two months before the 49ers could be faced with an important decision on Colin Kaepernick — CEO Jed York went on The Rich Eisen Show. Here’s what he said, courtesy of CSN Bay Area.
“I’m not going to decide who the starting quarterback is. That’s our coach, and then the staff,” York told Eisen on Thursday. “But I think the nice thing is we have the third-most salary cap room in the league, and everybody wants to make a big issue of, ‘Well, you need to make a decision on Colin.’ Etcetera, etcetera. We want Colin to get back healthy as soon as possible. We want to make sure that he’s able to take the field whenever he’s available.
“And we’ve all seen what Colin can do,” the 49ers CEO added. “Taking us to a Super Bowl, an NFC Championship game the year after. He’s had a great career here. Obviously last year wasn’t a great year for any of us in red and gold.
“And I think Chip is going to be a great addition, not just for Kap, but for the rest of the team. I’m excited to see where it goes.”
But the fact remains, after a 2-6 record to start the year, Kaepernick was benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert.
Once healthy, could Kaepernick earn back his starting job?
“There’s no question in my mind,” York replied. “I’ve always had a very, very high opinion of Kap. Kap’s a great kid, he’s done a lot of great things for us. And again, this is a fresh start for everybody.”
That settles it. Kap’s coming back! So retrieve that No. 7 jersey from the bottom corner of your bottom drawer, smooth out the wrinkles, and don that bad boy! And don’t forget to buy a black version at your local 49ers team store!
Hmmm … perhaps not.
On Oct. 6, 2014 — about two months before York and Jim Harbaugh came to a “mutual” decision that Harbaugh and the 49ers would part ways — York went on The Rich Eisen Show. Here’s what he said, courtesy of the San Jose Mercury News.
Jed York called a Fox Sports report “categorically not true” that Jim Harbaugh will not return next season as coach even if the 49ers win the Super Bowl.
“In terms of sustainability, every coach will move on at some point, and I don’t think Jim is at that point,” York said on The Rich Eisen Show, streamed on NFL Now. “We’ve had a great relationship here. We’ve had three pretty successful seasons so far.
“By 49ers standards, unless you’re holding a Lombardi Trophy up, it’s not truly a successful season. We all know that and understand that.”
Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Sunday morning that Harbaugh wouldn’t return finish out his contract’s fifth and final year, even if the 49ers won their first Super Bowl in 20 years. Multiple NFL Network reports over the past month have claimed 49ers players want Harbaugh out as coach.
York downplayed the reported friction between Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke.“Jim and Trent work fairly well together,” York said. “The results speak for themselves. And they’re very professional with each other. That’s really all I can ask for.”
“We’re going to sit down and talk about his contract right after the season is over,” York said. “Both of us came to that conclusion, that it doesn’t make sense to try to negotiate a contract in the middle of the season.
“We’re focused on getting back to and winning the Super Bowl. That’s really the only thing that’s on anybody’s mind here. … I’ve said this all along: I would like for nothing else to be in the worst negotiating position possible with Jim.”
“He said something yesterday that I’m probably not going to get the quote right, but he said, ‘My job is to love my team, not for them to love me.’ He truly believes that.”
“There are some people that don’t like if everybody in the room doesn’t like them. Jim isn’t one of those people. Jim wants to make sure he goes out and finds a way to win. That’s what he’s done just about everywhere he’s been as a coach. … He’s found a way to win in just about everything he does.”
“Jim does a great job letting Trent and the scouts go out and find players,” York said. “We’ve added some good talent to this team over the last four or five years. They work together, in that sense. Trent has never been a coach and has no aspirations of coaching. I’ve been in situations where that was the case here, I wasn’t working here at the time, when you have a former coach as a general manager, that can be dicey. That’s not how it is here.”
Before we go any further, what a hilarious quote from the last paragraph: “Trent has never been a coach and has no aspirations of coaching.” Now he’s known as “Coach Trent,” the guy who gives pointers to Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward during practice.
In the 2014 example, York had a good reason to go on an NFL-affiliated show and say what he did about Harbaugh. The 49ers were still considered title contenders, and the rumors about Harbaugh’s eventual termination were threatening to cause a season-long distraction (this would continue, despite York’s efforts).
In the 2016 example, the 49ers have reasons to make it sound like Colin Kaepernick is still in the team’s plans.
49ers’ options if Kaepernick can pass a physical by April 1
- Keep him if Kelly believes he’d start
- Trade him
- Release him
49ers’ options if Kaepernick cannot pass a physical by April 1
- Keep him if Kelly believes he’d start
- Trade him
- Attempt to work out an injury settlement with Kaepernick
No one outside the organization knows whether Kelly coach thinks Kaepernick would succeed in his system, and every time Kaepernick’s name has come up, Kelly has mentioned Gabbert. If the 49ers’ new head coach believes Kaepernick is salvageable, that would give Coach Trent a reason to avoid drafting a quarterback early … but all of this is speculation.
However, regardless of scenario, there is no reason for the 49ers to let everyone know they’re ready to move on from Kaepernick, let alone bash him. Why risk upsetting Kaepernick if he doesn’t recover quickly enough from his three surgeries and they’re forced to pay his full base salary for one more season? (Well, upset him more, since he can’t be pleased with the smear campaign that came out of Santa Clara before and after he was benched.) Why let other general managers know that to them, Kaepernick is the quarterbacking equivalent of a couch on the sidewalk with a sign that says “FREE”?
Here’s a better question: why should we take anything York says on The Rich Eisen Show seriously?