Jed York knows you’re angry. He knows you’ve blamed him for the departure of a coach who was pretty popular. He knows that fans and the media alike would prefer he address what has transpired during a disappointing 2015 campaign now, instead of after the season. He knows that every time he hits send on a tweet or retweet, his tone of his mentions will range from snarky to disgusting.
Here’s the thing: York doesn’t care.
Very fun win
— Jed York (@JedYork) December 6, 2015
Taken by itself, this tweet is completely innocuous. Blaine Gabbert tied yesterday’s game late with a touchdown run, and won it with a long touchdown pass in overtime to Torrey Smith. The 49ers caught a huge break when Bears kicker Robbie Gould, one of the most accurate kickers in league history, yanked a 36-yard try wide left at the end of regulation. They beat Chicago in a stadium where the 49ers hadn’t won in 25 years. It wasn’t a well-played game by any stretch, but it met the requirements any fan would have for a “very fun win.”
Yet, York’s decision to leap to the front of the bandwagon and Tweet-celebrate yesterday, just a few days after news broke that Paraag Marathe was getting reassigned/demoted/whatever, and a week after their second consecutive loss (their fifth divisional loss of the season), seemed peculiar. And since he hadn’t tweeted anything football-related after a game since Week 2, one was led to wonder what made yesterday’s game so danged special. Weren’t the wins over Baltimore and Atlanta at least a little fun, if not very fun? Was this a passive aggressive “how you like them apples” jab at Vic Fangio and Adam Gase?
York should know — even if his intentions were pure, people are going to have these questions. But clearly he couldn’t care less. And he told us as much during the “mutual parting” press conference on Dec. 29, 2014. (This passage didn’t make it onto the press conference transcript emailed by the 49ers to their media list, but I was surprised York went as far as he did here so I transcribed his quotes that afternoon.)
“Listen, I’ve seen a lot of people … if you want to read my Twitter feed, you get a really good sense of the absolute, like, far end of just vitriol, like you’re the worst person in the world, like I get that. And I walked through the stadium yesterday, I walked on the field yesterday… you know, I laughed because one of the elevators was blocked off for the coaches, so we went down the concourse and I said, ‘great day to pick going down the concourse. I really appreciate that,’ with our stadium security staff,” York said.
“People were really nice and respectful with me in person. I think it’s very easy to have that nature of, reaching out and lashing out at people through Twitter. But personally, when you sit down and have a conversation with people, I think it was very reasonable yesterday and nobody came out, nobody attacked, nobody said anything. There were folks that voice their opinion of what they wanted to see happen.
“Jim is a very good football coach. I certainly understand why our fans would want him to stay and again, I’m not going to get back into the details but I certainly understand why they want him to stay.
“But I also understand that there’s a level of people that are commenting on articles, people that are sending Tweets. There’s no accountability in that, that you’re not going to hold somebody to, you’re not going to see that person — that guy in person. I don’t take that as personally as having conversations with folks. But I certainly understand why people feel like … they’re upset. I get it.”
The last paragraph shows exactly how York thinks about fans and social media. Because season ticket holders fawn over him, ask for his autograph, and don’t scream things like “my coach left me,” “sell the team,” or much worse, he believes that all of the anger comes from a savage, unstable minority. And he’s right, in certain cases. Paying attention to trolls is not recommended. However, there are many who don’t hate York or hurl 140-character insults at him who wonder if he has the slightest semblance of a clue.
What does class mean to York? Is it simply about never throwing sideline tantrums and making sure the locker room is nice and tidy?
What does accountability mean to York? Isn’t it about admitting mistakes and providing customers with relevant information?
If he had taken some of the blame for this dismal season and kept 49ers fans in the loop on their ideas to improve the team (other than the occasional text to Adam Schefter or Jay Glazer) — in other words, show some honesty, humility and transparency — a tweet like yesterday’s wouldn’t be such a big deal at all. Actually, if he did all of those things, a sizable number of fans would’ve felt like he deserved to enjoy a rare “very fun win.” But after going into hiding this season, did he really think fans wanted to hear his thoughts on a victory that took the team’s winning percentage to .333 … less than a year after crowing about Super Bowl banners?
Get ready for York’s end-of-year press conference, when he’ll explain how the 49ers got so unlucky. How were they supposed to know all those players would retire and Colin Kaepernick wouldn’t play like a franchise quarterback? He’ll declare that Trent Baalke and Jim Tomsula have this team “on the right track.” Then, after spewing the same six talking points at the media for 45-to-60 minutes, he’ll tweet his thanks to the #Faithful for sticking with him and his team, with a promise that the #QuestForSix is back on.
Perhaps it’s harder to read the room when it’s a luxury suite.