Grant Cohn: Here's the blueprint for Jed York to rebuild the 49ers

Jed York still doesn't get it.

All he had to do after firing his third head coach in three years, plus his general manager, was show humility. Say something like: 'Look, Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke weren't the problem. Jim Tomsula wasn't the problem. I'm the problem. My ego is the problem. I think I know more than I do, I think I know football but I don't and that's why I keep hiring the wrong people. That's why I alienated Jim Harbaugh. That's why the 49ers are a national joke.

'But now I know what I have to do, and I know what I don't know. I need guidance. So, before I hire the new GM and head coach, I will consult with Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Brent Jones, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Jeff Garcia, Mike Holmgren and George Seifert. The greats of 49ers history. I'm sorry I didn't do this before. Please forgive me.'

York didn't say that. Instead, he acted more arrogant than ever. He actually wanted credit for learning things. He repeatedly said he learned the Niners need a new 'culture,' as if he even knows what football culture is. As if he's not the one poisoning the culture in the first place.

York also said he learned a general manager and head coach have to like each other and work together. Give the man a freaking medal.

Or don't. Because the very next day, York reportedly scheduled several interviews with potential head coaches, which means York has learned nothing.

An owner first needs to hire a GM, and then let the GM interview head-coaching candidates of his choosing. And the new head coach needs his own quarterback, the most important position on every football team.

The holy trinity of football — GM, head coach, quarterback. Cue the Angels' Choir.

There is an order to these things. If York messes up the order, he creates a problem. He's already creating a problem. He is the problem.

What good head coach will come to the 49ers if he doesn't know whom the GM will be? And what good GM will come to the 49ers if can't vet and hire his own head coach? No qualified personnel executive will leave the fertile grounds of New England or Green Bay or Seattle to come to the scorched earth of Santa Clara just to be the new head coach's butler.

York is clueless. He doesn't understand the process. Let me fill him in.

The 49ers need more than just a GM and a coach. They need a GM, a coach and a quarterback. They need the full holy trinity. Call it the heaven of football.

This is the trinity: Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

That's the complete package. Caserio and McDaniels have worked together for 13 seasons, and McDaniels and Garoppolo have worked together for three. They have continuity, the main thing the 49ers don't have.

Garappolo is a young quarterback who knows McDaniels' system — McDaniels developed him. And Garoppolo has experience. He started two games this season while Tom Brady was suspended and won both of them while posting a quarterback rating of 113.3. He's only 25-years old. He would be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft if he were in it.

According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots will trade Garoppolo in return for a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick. York should make that trade, assuming he also hires McDaniels and Caserio. That's the deal. York shouldn't go for only one or two parts of the trinity. He needs all three.

If York can't pull that off, he should forget New England and go to Green Bay where he can find option No. 2 — Packers director of football operations Eliot Wolf.

Wolf learned at the knee of his dad, Hall of Famer Ron Wolf, who built two Super Bowl teams for the Raiders in the '80s and one Super Bowl team for the Packers in the '90s. Others who learned at the knee of Ron Wolf are Seahawks GM John Schneider, Chiefs GM John Dorsey and Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Good knee. Wolf is God's lieutenant.

Option No. 2 requires patience. Does York have it? The 49ers are a total revamping project — Eliot Wolf would have to rebuild the team from scratch just like Reggie McKenzie did with the Raiders.

And, McKenzie succeeded because Raiders owner Mark Davis was patient. Gave McKenzie complete control. Let McKenzie lose 37 of his first 48 games as he tore apart the roster and built it back up in his vision. Let McKenzie hire his own head coach, fire him a few seasons later and hire a second one. Let McKenzie wait three years before he selected a quarterback — Derek Carr — with a high draft pick.

If York goes with Option No. 2, he has to channel his inner Mark Davis. Has to promise he'll give Eliot Wolf total autonomy and won't fire him after a few losing seasons. Has to give Wolf his word.

All of that may not be enough, though. What is York's word worth? Would you trust York's word if you were Wolf? Would you even want to work for that ignorant, pompous, meddling owner?

Or would you take the interview just for the sake of experience? USA Today reports the 49ers will interview Wolf soon, but that doesn't mean Wolf wants the job. There's no harm in meeting with York and listening to his spiel.

Wolf isn't desperate for a promotion — he's only 34. Interviewing with the 49ers will increase his profile in the media and around the league, and owners of better franchises will add his name to their short list of GMs they would hire down the line. Every owner has a short list.

Not long ago, the Niners were the New York Yankees of the NFL. Now, they may be nothing more than a P.R. machine for guys moving up. All because of York and his ego.

Are they playing you, Jed?

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the 'Inside the 49ers' blog for The Press Democrat's website. You can reach him at

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