Lowell Cohn: 49ers clean house with broom held by inept hands


No grieving for Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly.

Before the 49ers lost to the Seahawks - what else? - multiple reports said Baalke and Kelly got the ax, something they richly deserved. Baalke admitted he got the heave-ho before the game.

Immediately after the game, Kelly said he didn’t know if he would get fired. Said he was meeting with team owner Jed York. The word of Chip’s firing came two hours after the game. Came in a tweet from a national writer, followed by a news release from the team. The 49ers are so lacking in class.

Baalke spoke on radio before the game even began. Get a look at what he said. “Sometimes you need to reset the culture.” He meant the 49ers reset their culture by firing him. You could take his words as a slap at Kelly. I mean if you’re going to reset the culture that means firing the coach, too.

Not that I disagree. But what Baalke said is so Baalke. He always seemed at odds with coaches. Never seemed to pull together with them. Which meant the 49ers were, by definition, divided, fractured, in perpetual strife. GM vs. head coach.

The 49ers finally need a head coach and general manager who work together, who believe the success of the team depends on their cordial, combined efforts. With Baalke it seemed he was saying he did his job but the coach screwed up. With Kelly it seemed he was saying he did his job but the GM screwed up.

The 49ers are a giant screw-up.

But forget Baalke and Kelly. Just forget them. They are history. Time to move on. Time to hire a new GM and new head coach. Time to ask the only relevant questions:

What gives you confidence the 49ers can make the right moves to improve the team?

To cease being a league-wide joke?

Sure, they can fire people. They specialize in firing people. Do they know how to hire people?

The right people?

What inspires you to believe the postscript to this season’s disaster will be different from postscripts to previous disasters?

Author’s message here: We are talking about Jed York now. Now, we are exclusively talking about no one but Jed, the rich kid whose parents gave him a team. My parents gave me a baseball mitt and a Smith Corona typewriter. Jed’s parents gave him the 49ers.

Baalke and Chip were not the 49ers’ problem. They were symptoms of the problem. Jed is the problem. Jed and his mother and father and the whole degraded York ownership are the problem. Jed, so inept, so unprepared for his responsibility, will lead the search for a new GM and head coach. God save us from Jed the searcher. Jed is no searcher. Jed is a failure. A monumental failure in a three-piece suit.

Let’s do a quick tour through his searching history for head coaches. Let’s do it for old time’s sake. He hired Mike Singletary. You want to smack yourself in the head over that one. Jed lucked out into hiring Jim Harbaugh, but then Jed fired Harbaugh. A clown move. Then Jed hired Jim Tomsula, a one-season dud, followed by Chip, another one-season dud.

And Jed is in charge of getting the new GM and new coach? You want to die laughing. You want to laugh in his face. And you want to tell him the brutal truth. That he will find a way to louse this up because it’s what he always does. He knows no one who can lead him to a good GM. He knows no one who can lead him to a good coach.

Let’s not mess around here. Jed York has no goodwill left in the bank. His overdraft is sky high. Who would work for Jed? What decent coach would work for this bumbler when every coach in the NFL knows what Jed is? What coach would work for the 49ers with Jed there?

But, OK, miracles happen even to the inept, even to the lamentably bad. Jed got Harbaugh. He might get another good coach to work for him.

David Shaw? The Stanford connection.

It’s possible. Unlikely but possible. The Niners are in the neighborhood as far as Shaw is concerned, right down the road from Palo Alto. Maybe Jed gives Shaw full control. Lets Shaw hire his own GM. I personally like David Shaw and would hate for this to happen to him. So, I offer this advice to David. Before you take the 49ers job - if you take it - make certain stipulations.

“Jed, I’ll work for you under the stipulation you never talk to me. Under the stipulation you don’t look me in the eyes. Under the stipulation you never visit me at practice - this goes double for your father. Under the stipulation you never ask how my day is going. Under the stipulation you never talk about a topic even as innocuous as the weather. Under the stipulation you move to Guatemala. If you can agree to all that and if you can make me rich for life, I’ll coach your wretched team. Agreed?”

Agree to it, Jed.

And one other thing. Jed will hold his annual failure news conference 10 a.m. today. I love his news conferences, the epitome of insincerity. He’s fooled me before with his phony sincerity. He says stuff like, “Hold me accountable.”

If he says that today, one of his public-relations guys should pie him in the puss. He is never allowed for the rest of his life to say hold me accountable. Or to say, “I take full responsibility.”

Like anyone can hold him accountable. He’s a total phony when he says that stuff.

Let’s be frank. When Jed fired Baalke and Kelly, he should have fired himself. Just taken himself out of the way. Or Mommy and Daddy should have fired him. He is worse than Baalke and Kelly. In his news release announcing the firings of Chip and Baalke, he said the team needs to go in a “new direction.” It should go in a direction without Jed. That would be a bold new direction.

Jed, you’ve loused things up already and the season just ended. You didn’t have the decency to let your GM and coach work their final games without leaking their firings. What did you gain by that? How did you enhance your crummy image? I am assuming you, Jed, or a Jed-like creature in the organization leaked the news. I mean, come on.

The leaking showed such ignorance of how polite, civilized people do business. Showed such a lack of fundamental decency. It was so you.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at

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