York has his work cut out for him in replacing Kelly, Baalke

York has his work cut out for him in replacing Kelly, Baalke

SANTA CLARA -- There must be something inherently charming about Jed York that he keeps hidden from the rest of us, given that he manages to fire people and still get them to finish their projects. Most bosses have to have someone from HR in the room and a security guard outside in case things get hinky.

But Trent Baalke showed up for his last official day as the team’s general manager even though he’d been fired two days before (and despite an erroneous Twitrumor that he’d been escorted from the stadium by security), and Chip Kelly coached his final game as though there was still something to prove.

Of course, Game 16 went down the same as most of Games 2-through-15. The 49ers took an early lead, couldn’t hold it and lost to the Seattle Seahawks, 25-23. They played hard, even getting into several scraps with the ever-obstreperous Hawks, but all they managed to nail down in the end was one last cruddy memory and the second pick in the April 27 NFL Draft.

A draft, most people agree, that won’t provide the new general manager and coach, the old owner or the rapidly aging fan base a nucleus around to which to build the next glorious age.

In short, everyone played their roles to the end – the players praised Kelly, Kelly praised the players, Baalke did his radio show for one last round of justifications and then faded back into the mists, and York was conspicuous by his much-voted absence.

And two hours and eight minutes after the game, Kelly got the horse’s head Baalke had been given. Once again, Jed told us something he doesn’t like without giving any indication of what he does like. And perpetual dissatisfaction is no way to run a business.

In other words, with all this change, there wasn’t much change at all.

You see, while most folks will be focusing on the identities of the next GM and coach (or coach and GM, if Jed decides to work backwards), the atmosphere is what needs the biggest workover. There is no compelling reason for excitement around either of these vacancies, no more than for the Chargers’ coaching job (Mike McCoy got canned after losing to the Chiefs), the Rams’ coaching job (Jeff Fisher was canned nine days after being extended), the Jaguars’ coaching job (Gus Bradley got it on a plane ride home), the Bills’ coaching job (Rex Ryan cleared space for Anthony Lynn to lose his first game), the Broncos’ coaching job (Gary Kubiak announced he is stepping down), or possibilities in Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and New Orleans.

And yes, it figures that the 49ers would be looking for a new coach when the market is replete with more stable offerings.

As for the general manager gig, it comes with its own set of worries – namely, what kind of general manager Jed wants. He wanted Baalke until it became untenable for him to stay. He wanted Mike Nolan until the load of two jobs caused him to fail at both. He wanted Scot McCloughan until his personal issues became too much to handle. Indeed, he has valued his general managers far more dearly than his coaches, and that was even before Jim Harbaugh ruined his opinion on coaches by being too much like Jim Harbaugh.

But York fancies himself a better judge of employees than he has the evidence to prove, so there is no compelling reason for the quiver of excitement to overtake the fan base, or the look of sullen admiration from his fellow operators that he somehow found a diamond necklace in a kiddie pool. He isn’t even good at explaining what he intends to do, why he intends to do it or even what methodology he would employ.

That is, until he seeks out the wisdom of the national media on the theory that validation and name-dropping go hand in hand.

So until someone can explain what Jed actually wants his football operation to be, the identities almost don’t matter. The order of hiring almost matters more, because if he hires the coach first, it means he still believes he has a special insight into the game that allows him the luxury of not deferring to people who should know acres more on the subject.

Jed is good at several things – making a stadium turn into an ATM machine, avoiding the public, firing people and paying coaches not to work for him. Other than the money thing, none of these are useful social skills or confidence-builders.

And that is what he needs most right now – a way to indicate not just to unhappy fans but to the hiring pool that he actually does have a grasp on this football business, even if his grasp is to let go of it and hand it to someone who can repair what he has wrought. The “it’s one of 32 jobs so anyone would be desperate to have it” logic doesn’t work when the brand has been so comprehensively devalued.

So here’s where we are. Jed has to sell himself to people who know more than him to work for him, and his record is so tatty that it won’t do it for him. After all, no new job candidate will be comforted with “Well, I have a lot of experience firing people and paying them afterward” as a selling point.

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

Shanahan expects 'everyone in our building to be pissed off' after loss to Denver

After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.

That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.

“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”

A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.

When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.

“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.

“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”

Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.

“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”

Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”

49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon


49ers could get presumptive starting free safety back soon

The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.

Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.

Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.

"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.

The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.

In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.

"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."

--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.

--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.

"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."

--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.

"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.

Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.

--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.

"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."

--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.

"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.

"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."