NFL

York rehab project begins: 49ers will fire Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly

I’ll try to make this relatively short because it’s New Year’s Eve, I have baby back ribs on the grill, and I have no idea where the Yorks will go from here (although Matt Barrows has some interesting potential GM suggestions here).

That’s an interesting tidbit from Barrows, but how about something more pressing? The team was awful, no one seemed to get any better, and Kelly seemed as worried about what was transpiring as a MUNI driver does when he (or she) comes within an inch of hitting a cyclist.

Based on performance, starting fresh with a new GM and head coach sounds like the obvious choice. What’s crazy about this situation is that what we’ve learned about the Yorks told us they’d probably want to keep Kelly, or even figure out a way to hallucinate some ridiculous reasons why they should let Baalke stick around to lick Jed York’s shoes while continuing to pretend like the most important position in the NFL is cornerback. That’s how cheap and/or insular so many people perceive the Yorks to be.

That will have to change, because of what the Yorks have created. A nearly brand new stadium that few respect, let alone revere, and has sat half full for the majority of games. A front office that is considered abnormally toxic by NFL standards and might as well be named Leak Central. A true bummer of a roster.

The Yorks aren’t just competing with other teams in the NFC West for a chance at a first round bye. They aren’t just competing with every other NFL team for the top front office, coaching and athletic talent. They’re competing with themselves. They’re competing with their belief that they know everything. They’re competing with their reputations. Finding the right general manager, who would presumably be allowed to hire the coach of his choosing, wouldn’t be easy — even in the best of circumstances. With what the Yorks have created, they’re going to have to fight even harder and stop this streak of one-and-done coaches.

At least 49ers fans get a chance to feel a weird emotion called “hope” again, right? No more getting hyped for the draft, only to see Baalke make a flurry of trades that result in additional mid-round picks that are eventually wasted on players who never see the field, either due to injuries they were nursing during the draft or because they’re cut. We don’t know that the Yorks will go outside the organization and hire one of the top minds to form the team’s vision, but today’s news tells us that it’s at least a possibility. That’s fun, at least compared to what fans have had to deal with for the last two seasons.

They’ll have to go outside of the organization, since Tom Gamble is linked to both Baalke AND Kelly and there are no other viable options. Well, unless they make Paraag Marathe the GM, which would be the biggest troll job the Yorks ever pulled.

Just kidding! Unless it happens.

To summarize: At least the Yorks are doing something about this mess … but because they’re the Yorks, we have to prepare for an equally poor set of hires followed by more finger-pointing, leaks, and generally embarrassing behavior on and off the field. 

***

I guess I’ll come up with a prediction for all of this, since we’re all prediction-obsessed and my ribs aren’t done yet. The 49ers spent a good portion of the 2000s seemingly trying to emulate the Baltimore Ravens, and we all know about Trent Baalke’s love for Bill Parcells. Now there’s a good chance they’ll look to New England for spiritual guidance, and either go after their current director of player personnel (Nick Caserio, who got a mention from Barrows) or Scott Pioli. I’m guessing the “Full Shanahan” has very little chance of coming to fruition, and all of this will lead to Josh McDaniels becoming the team’s next head coach.

But we’ll see, and that’s the beauty of tonight’s news. We knew that things probably wouldn’t be all that interesting next year if Kelly stayed (boy, I couldn’t have been more wrong on that one), and Baalke was the living embodiment of every lame “football guy” cliche we’ve ever heard.

Happy New Year! Maybe the 49ers have officially hit, and gotten past, rock bottom after all.

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