York: 'You have to be willing to change path if you've made a mistake'

York: 'You have to be willing to change path if you've made a mistake'

CEO Jed York and the 49ers are coming off what was universally regarded as one of the most-successful hauls in this year’s NFL draft.

But the 49ers entered with the No. 2 overall pick because the club fell over the past three seasons from 8-8 to 5-11 to 2-14 under three different head coaches. York has been criticized, and that’s the way it should be, York said Wednesday during an appearance on the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.”

“That’s who you should question,” York said. “This isn’t where we want to be. We don’t want to be a 2-14 team. And you don’t want to be a team that has its fourth head coach in four years. But you also have to be willing to change path if you’ve made a mistake and know that we’re not going to settle for being a 9-7 team.

“That’s not where we want to be. If you want to make your team great, you have to do everything that you can to get back up to that level. And that’s where we are. And we will get there. We had three NFC Championship games in a row sandwiched between a Super Bowl loss. It’s close, but that’s not where we want to be. We want to be a team that consistently competes for it. And when it’s all said and done, and John (Lynch), Kyle (Shanahan) and I look backward, we want to know that we won more together than anybody else.”

On the final weekend of the season, York fired general manager Trent Baalke and head coach Chip Kelly. He ultimately hired Lynch as general manager to pair with Shanahan, the former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, as head coach.

York was in the 49ers’ draft room and watched how the new 49ers regime navigated the seven-round draft with six trades, including two first-day blockbusters that enabled the organization to select Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Thomas and Foster were two of the top three players on the 49ers’ draft board.

“I don’t know that there’s enough data to assess where are they and where do they stack against everybody else,” York said. “What I’ll say is, I think the draft was a perfect example of how they work together.

“And watching John and Kyle work together, and watching how the scouts and the coaches work together. I have no idea whether it was a good draft or not -- we’ll find out three years from now -- but it certainly worked out the way we wanted it to because we planned for it. We were ready. And we executed because we were all on the same page.”

One of the big questions as the 49ers enter this season is whether the quarterback position is strong enough to win a lot of games this season. The 49ers have gone through a transition at quarterback with the depth chart comprised of veterans Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, draft pick C.J. Beathard of Iowa, and undrafted rookie Nick Mullens of Southern Mississippi.

“When you look at Kyle Shanahan, an offensive-minded guy who has history with the 49ers, directly and indirectly, I think he’s going to do a great job – he’s done a great job with Brian Hoyer in the past,” York said. “And I think he’s going to continue to do a great job with Brian. Brian has grown in his career, and I think he’s ready to be a good quarterback for us.

“So that’s a position, until you get your guy, you have to keep taking shots. As much as we compete with the guys up north (Seattle), they did that very well. They signed (Matt) Flynn to a big contract but they still drafted one they like, who happens to be Russell Wilson. And until you’re set, you can never stop taking shots to get your guy at quarterback because that’s what ultimately drives this league.”

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

McDonald toasts Shanahan for communication of trade talks

SANTA CLARA -- Tight end Vance McDonald became aware of a report the 49ers had engaged in trade talks involving him at his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas.

But McDonald said he did not give it much thought because he had another immediate priority.

“I still had my best man’s speech to do,” McDonald said.

Later that evening during last month's draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called McDonald to keep him in the loop. There was no trade, and McDonald returned to Santa Clara on Monday to continue participation in the 49ers’ offseason program.

“The first thing I told him was, ‘Man, there aren’t a lot of coaches that would do this,’” McDonald said of his talk with Shanahan. “He just wanted to fill me in.”

Nearly four weeks later, it is as if nothing ever happened.

“The only trade discussions we had was when another team asked us about Vance on draft day,” Shanahan said this week. “And after a team asked us about Vance then we asked other teams if they’d be interested in that same thing.”

McDonald said he completely understood why the 49ers would check with other teams around the league to see what they could acquire in a trade.

“Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald said. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team.

“So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.”

Even before he knew his immediate future with the 49ers, McDonald said he tried to maintain the proper state of mind.

“I had the mindset this isn’t going to change anything,” McDonald said. “I’m going to end up where I end up and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, which is do everything to be a better football player.”

McDonald enters the fifth year of his NFL career after signing a new deal in December that amounts to a three-year, $19.7 million extension. Three days later, the 49ers placed McDonald on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

McDonald was on pace for his best season as a pass-catcher. In 11 games, he had 24 receptions for 391 yards and four touchdowns.

Now, he is competition for a spot in the 49ers’ offense, along with fifth-round draft pick George Kittle, undrafted rookie Cole Hikutini, and veterans Logan Paulsen, Garrett Celek and Blake Bell.

McDonald said he likes what Shanahan has brought to the 49ers, including added responsibilities of the tight end position.

“Last year, all we talked about was how fast our pace was,” McDonald said. “With Kyle, it’s insanely quick. He’s a very detailed guy. It’s interesting to hear him present information. You try to apply it and play with the same mindset that he has. It’s a task that we all enjoy doing.

“We (tight ends) are the end of the line. There’s communication with us and the wide receivers and running backs. We’re also in command with receiving corps. There are a lot of things on our plate. Hopefully, this doesn’t get back to the wide receivers, but we’re supposed to be smarter than them. It’s a fun job to have. We don’t try to rub it in too much.”

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly returns to college football -- as analyst

Chip Kelly is back in college football.

The former Oregon coach, who served as 49ers head coach last season, signed a multiyear deal as an ESPN analyst, the network announced Friday morning. He will work predominantly on pre-games, halftimes and in studio wraps each Saturday on ESPN2.

“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.

“Once I decided to make the move to TV, my familiarity with ESPN, combined with their high-quality production and vital role in college football, it was easily the best network suited for me.”

Kelly, 53, was fired on the evening of the 49ers’ season finale. The 49ers went 2-14 under Kelly and set the franchise record with 13 consecutive losses. Their only victories came against the Los Angeles Rams. Kelly also auditioned with FOX for the analyst job vacated when John Lynch became 49ers general manager, sources told NBC Sports Bay Area.

Kelly served as Oregon’s head coach from 2009 to ’12. His teams compiled a record of 46-7. Under Kelly, the Ducks advanced to the 2011 national championship game, losing to Auburn 22-19.

Kelly won the AP College Football Coach of the Year. He twice won the Pac-10 coach of the year. He left Oregon to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. After his first two NFL teams went 10-6, Kelly was fired in 2015 with one game remaining in the season. The Eagles were 6-9 at the time of Kelly's firing.

“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting said. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”