York steers 49ers into new era

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York steers 49ers into new era

Programming Note: Jed York will be in studio for Chronicle Live today, along with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, tennis legend John McEnroe and former U.S. Open champ Andy Roddick. Join us at 5 p.m.

Jed York will be on Chronicle Live today, which makes one wonder what other wonderful developments are in store for the show. Gold coins stacked on the sets coffee table? The sound of harps augmenting Kozs voice? A foot massage for producer Adam Littlefield?

Because good things seem to happen when York is around. Young Jed is on a pretty amazing 13 month run, beginning with his hire of Jim Harbaugh in January of 2011 (a generous soul could stretch out his run of good fortune to 14 months, starting with the firing of Mike Singletary but were not going to give him credit for facing the inevitable, and -- besides -- hes the one who hired Singletary in the first place).

Starting a little more than a year ago, York stuck with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke. He paid Harbaugh what it took. He concentrated on the task of getting a new stadium and let the football guys deal with the football team.

As his uncle Eddie says, Jed was smart enough to mind his own business.

He stepped back and watched the guys he entrusted to do their job actually do their job. Thats harder than it sounds for owners -- especially for young newbie owners. And York was rewarded for his lack of meddling: his team went to the NFC Championship game.

And now more good stuff is happening. Because winning creates stability. Winning creates happiness. People want to help winners.

In the past two weeks, York has shored up his success. He gave Baalke a three-year extension, a deserved contract based on this years success. That means Harbaugh and Baalke can work together through at least 2014. He named Gideon Yu a co-owner -- Yu is believed to own once percent of the team.

But most importantly, York got 200 million from the NFL, approved a few days before the Super Bowl. And with that money secured, Santa Clara officials said they plan to break ground this summer and have the stadium ready for the 2014 season.

Thats real. Thats soon. That means the stadium is past the stage of wishes and dreams and in the ordering a concrete pour stage.

There still will be glitches in the process. The stadium opponents are unhappy about what they see as altered financing from the original deal and want to take legal action. Many of the 49ers long-time fans are miserable, priced out a lousy reward for sticking with the team for the past decade. Franklin Mieulis heirs are suing the Yorks over the worth of the team.

But, right now, it looks, like York is going to get done what his father and his uncle could never achieve -- get the 49ers a brand new stadium.

Which is nothing short of stunning.

On a conference call during the playoffs, York took the right tone. For a guy who has plenty to boast about, he took a humble, thankful approach. He didnt inherit the tin ear that plagues other family members.

And hes done some other noteworthy less-flashy stuff, like righting past wrongs. Rather than running from the teams past success York has embraced it, bringing in former greats, including his uncle. Their regular contact has mended one of the uglier rifts in sports ownership.

Its been a hell of a run, and quite a transformation for an organization that was widely viewed as inept just two years to one now firmly back among the contenders.

The one thing York couldnt seem to accomplish was getting his uncle into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Give him time. The guy needs to have something left on his to-do list.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to CSNBayArea.com and Chronicle Live.

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers select CB Ahkello Witherspoon in third round of the 2017 NFL Draft

AHKELLO WITHERSPOON
Position: Cornerback
College: Colorado
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 193
Selection: Third round, No. 66 overall

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers selected Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, a Sacramento native, in the third round of the NFL draft with the No. 66 overall pick.

“Being close to home is an incredible opportunity, as well as the type of defense they play -- press man, up in your face,” Witherspoon said. “When I came in for a visit, they were asking me if I’ve adopted that role and if I’d be willing to continue that. And I said, ‘Absolutely.’

“It’s an opportunity to play for such a great organization, close to home, with such a savvy defensive mentality. I think it’s going to be a great place for me.”

The 49ers were also scheduled to have the next pick, but traded the selection at No. 67 for the New Orleans Saints’ second-round pick in next year’s draft, as well as a seventh-round selection (No. 219 overall) this year. The 49ers now have 10 picks in next year’s draft.

The Saints used that pick at No. 67 to select Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara.

Witherspoon began his college career at Sacramento City. He played his final three college seasons at Colorado. He started 12 games last season and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors.

Witherspoon led the nation with 22 pass breakups. He recorded one interception -- a game-saving pick in the end zone to preserve a 41-38 victory over Oregon. A pre-med student majoring in ecology and evolutionary biology, he said he aspires to be a doctor after his football career.

But Witherspoon said he is committed to football and promised the 49ers during his visit to Santa Clara that he will make huge strides over the next few years as he continues to develop as a player.

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

Reuben Foster: Shoulder recovery on pace for training camp clearance

SANTA CLARA – Linebacker Reuben Foster is likely to be a spectator when the 49ers hold their rookie minicamp next week.

But Foster said he is on pace to be fully cleared for football activity by the time the 49ers open training camp in late July. Recent national reports have suggested Foster would require another surgery on his right shoulder.

“That’s not accurate at all,” said Foster, who took part in a press conference on Friday after the 49ers selected him with the No. 31 overall pick in the draft on Thursday. “I’m fine. I’m on schedule.”

Foster said he sustained the tear of the labrum in his right shoulder during Alabama’s national semifinal game against Washington. He played in the championship game against Clemson with the injury.

He underwent surgery on his rotator cuff that forced him to sit out drills at the NFL scouting combine in February. Foster was sent home from Indianapolis after an argument with a hospital worker while he was waiting to undergo a physical.

There were reports Foster could require additional surgery after he went through the medical re-check in Indianapolis.

“I’m making big progress,” Foster said. “I’ll be limited in OTAs. Training camp, I’ll be full-go, but if it’s my decision, I think I can go now.”

Later, Foster said the 49ers have all of his medical information.

“I guarantee they have enough X-rays, exams, MRIs to know where I stand,” he said. “I had the surgery. They already knew how many weeks I was out.”

Foster dropped in the draft over apparent concerns about his shoulder and character issues. Alabama coach Nick Saban told AL.com on Thursday that Foster did not consult him before undergoing surgery.

"Look, the way we like for things to get handled, that didn't get handled," Saban said. "We have the best doctors in the world in Dr. (James) Andrews and Dr. (Lyle) Cain who operate on most NFL players and his agent chose to take him someplace else. I think (Andrews and Cain) have tremendous credibility.

"So, you know, all these choices and decisions that you make have consequences and I hate it for our players when they do it, but he didn't seek my advice in what he should do. So, if that was an issue, that was an issue. It shouldn't have been an issue but if it was, I don't really know much about it."