Lowell Cohn: 49ers are laughable and it starts with Jed York

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SANTA CLARA — You’ve got to go, son. Get out of the way. Just clear out.

I’m talking to you, Jed York. Talking as an older man to a younger man. Talking as someone who has nothing to gain. Telling it straight. You need to hear straight talk. Something you don’t hear from your underlings or whoever advises you.

I’m familiar with the smell of failure. From my own life. From life in general. The smell is all around and it’s on you. Has been for years. You reek of failure. You and the Niners need a deodorant.

Not saying you’re a bad man. Don’t know about you one way or another. But you are a bad leader. A terrible CEO. That’s what you are, CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, once a great sports organization. A national treasure. Now look what the Niners are.

Pitiful. Laughable. Contemptible.

It all happened under your stewardship, son, and it’s your fault. Get out of the way. For the Niners good. For your own good. For the good of football.

Let’s take a quick look at your legacy, such as it is. In your time as team big shot, you have hired four head coaches. Three were disasters. Mike Singletary may have been the worst head coach in NFL history. Or maybe Jim Tomsula was the worst. Certainly, the incumbent, Chip Kelly, is vying for worst ever.

In each case, you didn’t have to compete for the hire. That’s because no other team wanted Singletary, Tomsula or Kelly. So sad. So awful to watch you in action.

If you hadn’t hired Kelly, he’d be out of the league. He’s so bad, he was unable to attract quality coordinators — no one respects him. Offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins? Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil? Shame on you and Kelly and the 49ers.

You gave Kelly a second chance, and he’s on a five-game losing streak. Is overmatched by the league. It’s so obvious. He is a college coach. He gets blasted in the second half of games like he did against Buffalo. When you ask why — I did on Monday — he says stuff like, “We’ve got to do a better job.”

You think?

That kind of talk is loser coach talk. I’ve heard it a million times, bad coaches verbally wiggling out of the tough places. Bad coaches trying to wiggle. Bad coaches without a clue.

Kelly talks technical football to extricate himself from answering hard, fair questions. He knows the media won’t understand a word he’s saying, puts up a verbal shield. On Monday, he went on and on about something the Bills defense did called the “inside twist.” Is it a dance? Whatever the twist is, the Niners didn’t handle it in that 45-16 embarrassment. Come on, baby, let’s do the twist.

You hired this guy, son. It’s not his fault. It’s yours.

You also hired general manager Trent Baalke. He was the topper-offer in the whole sorry deal. Another one you didn’t compete for. No one else was breaking down the door for him. He has accumulated the worst roster in the league even though he and you have plenty of money to spend. Why didn’t you spend it?

Not Baalke’s fault he’s no good. It’s yours for putting him in the position to be no good and ruin the franchise.

It’s on you, son.

I’ll point out that you hired Singletary, Tomsula and Baalke from within the organization. Took the path of least resistance. So weak and naïve on your part. Not how a leader acts.

In your entire time in charge, you made one good hire. Jim Harbaugh. You lucked into Harbaugh because he wanted to stay in the Bay Area and was in awe of the 49ers tradition — before you and your family degraded it. And because Bill Walsh mentored him. Coaching the 49ers was his homage to Walsh.

And then you loused things up with Harbaugh. Sure, he was difficult. But you loused things up and ran him out of town. Look where that got you.

I will go one further. Point out the worst part of your legacy. Moved the 49ers out of San Francisco. The Giants stayed in San Francisco. The Warriors are relocating to San Francisco. But you went to Santa Clara. Seriously. It’s like taking the Packers out of Green Bay or the Yankees out of New York.

It is shameful, son, and it is on you.

You need to go.

Soon, you will fire Baalke. It’s obvious he’s gone. You can’t go anywhere near the hiring of a new GM, son. Leave it to someone with expertise. Clear out of the way. We’ve seen your hires and we cringe. Things are consistently getting worse and there’s no hope. Because of you.

Here’s what should happen. Your parents should promote you, one of those promotions with quotation marks around it. You parents should acknowledge all your hard work. Let you handle stadium concerts, Wrestlemania at Levi’s, minor-league soccer — stuff like that. Everything that doesn’t involve football.

Mom and Dad should allow you and you alone to expand the famous York brand globally. The world awaits the brand. You can do that, son. I know you can.

But Denise and John need to sanitize the 49ers headquarters of your influence and your odor of failure. Let someone else pick the GM and coach and scouts and players. And, you, take your fancy suits and your shiny loafers and your nice socks and shirts and ties, and go someplace else. Anywhere else. I’m giving you every bit of wisdom I have.

Go away, son.

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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