Jed York touts his uncle as Hall worthy

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Jed York touts his uncle as Hall worthy

On a conference call Thursday in which he answered questions about the NFL's approval of a 200 million loan for the 49ers' Santa Clara stadium effort, team president Jed York concluded with some words about his uncle.Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who oversaw the 49ers as owner from 1977 to 1997, is one of 17 finalists under consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Four to seven individuals will be announced for election on Saturday at 2:30 p.m."My uncle is a finalist for the Hall of Fame, and that voting will be on Saturday," York said. "I'm very hopeful that he is given an opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame. He's been one of the greatest owners in the history of professional sports. And he's been a great inspiration to me and many other people that are involved in sports teams. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him."The 49ers won five Super Bowls under DeBartolo's guidance. DeBartolo would be an easy choice for the Hall of Fame if it weren't for the way his tenure came to an end. He resigned as the controlling owner in December 1997 when he became a target of gambling fraud charges in Louisiana.Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue suspended DeBartolo for the 1999 season and fined him 1 million after DeBartolo pleaded guilty to the felony charge of failing to report an extortion attempt by then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.DeBartolo's sister, Denise, and her husband, John York, took over the 49ers. After the sides launched dueling lawsuits, a settlement was reached in 2000 in which DeBartolo surrendered his stake in the 49ers in exchange for the family's real estate holdings.DeBartolo, who lives in Tampa, Fla., has remained in the background for the past decade. In recent years, he has eagerly served as a sounding board to Jed York, with whom he speaks regularly. DeBartolo accepted his nephew's invitation to appear at Candlestick Park as honorary captain for the 49ers' Championship Game two weeks ago against the New York Giants.The new Hall of Fame class will be chosen from the following list of finalists: Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Jack Butler, Cris Carter, Dermontti Dawson, DeBartolo, Chris Doleman, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Cortez Kennedy, Curtis Martin, Bill Parcells, Andre Reed, Willie Roaf, Will Shields, Dick Stanfel and Aeneas Williams.

49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

49ers specialists get drenched in preparations for inclement weather

CHICAGO – The 49ers trained for the expected low-30s temperature and snow at Soldier Field with a week of workouts in the 80-degree heat of Florida.

However, the team’s specialists got some practice handling wet footballs during the 49ers’ final practice in Orlando, Fla.

Special-teams coordinator Derius Swinton and his assistant, Michael Clay, made a game of it. Long-snapper Kyle Nelson had to execute 10 perfect snaps to holder Bradley Pinion for field goals. Then, Pinion moved back to punt formation, where another 10 in a row were required.

But they had to be perfect while Swinton and Clay squirted water on the ball and at the hands of Nelson and Pinion, who also received a blast of water in his ear hole at one point.

“We always look up to see if there’s a chance of rain or snow, and we go, ‘Wet-ball drill,’ ” Nelson said. “They (Swinton and Clay) get to have fun, squirting water on us and use the water bottles.

“They make it as bad as possible.”

Nelson and Pinion teamed up to execute perfectly on all 20 field goals and punts.

“If I can do this, in a game it’s going to be even easier,” Nelson said. “They make it a lot harder in practice than it is in a game, so when we get to a game, everything is not as fast.”

The weather conditions on Sunday against the Chicago Bears will likely challenge Nelson, Pinion and kicker Phil Dawson as much as anyone. Dawson has been tracking the weather forecasts for more than a week to get mentally prepared for what he might face.

“Soldier Field is notorious for being a tough place to kick because of the wind and the field itself,” Dawson said this week on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “The footing is pretty poor. So when you add snow and moisture to the equation, it’s going to be one of those days.

“You need to have conversations with your coaches and let them know – be honest with them – about the difficulty. But you have to do that without it affecting your confidence to go out and get the job done.”

Said Nelson, “It takes more focus in bad weather. The snaps have to be a little more perfect. Bradley has to focus more on catching the ball, and Phil has to concentrate on the approach and be more cautious.”

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich provides insight into Chip Kelly's line of thinking

Mark Helfrich had a strong indication he would be fired as Oregon’s head coach. And he said he told Chip Kelly recently he would have no hard feelings if Kelly left the 49ers to return to coach the Ducks.

Kelly this week said he is not interested in abandoning his job with the 49ers to coach in the college ranks. Helfrich suggested during a radio interview on Friday that Kelly told him the same thing privately.

When it was suggested that Kelly hated to recruit, Helfrich did not disagree.

"That's a fact," Helfrich said in an interview on ESPN Radio's Russillo and Kanell. "I don't know hated recruiting. . . a dislike. A strong dislike. But I think Chip has that challenge in his mind right now to make it right in the NFL.

"I had some of those conversations with him a couple weeks ago when it looked like this was going south. That was a very awkward converation, but (I) just wanted to let him know that to take our personal relationship out of it in every way, shape or form if he wanted to consider this.

"But, me, reading between the lines, I think he wants to make it right in the NFL. I think he wants to win at that level. He's had a rough go of it this year, but he'll get it right."

Kelly compiled a 46-7 record in four seasons in Eugene, Ore. He left after the 2012 season to accept the head-coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly was fired late last season and took the 49ers job two weeks later.

In Kelly’s first season with the 49ers, the club is 1-10. The 49ers are on a franchise-long 10-game losing streak entering Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

Helfrich was 37-16 in his four seasons at Oregon after his promotion from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly said he spoke with Helfrich the morning after he was fired.

“I just felt bad for Mark. I love him like a brother,” Kelly said. “He’s a tremendous person. He’s a hell of a football coach, but he’s an even better person. Just felt for him and the rest of the guys on that staff. It’s an unfortunate thing that goes on in this profession. We all know about it when we sign up, but when it happens you’re still taken aback by it.”

Kelly said he hoped his denial of any interest in the Oregon job would end all speculation about his future. When asked if intends to remain with the 49ers, Kelly said on Wednesday, “Yep. So we're all done with that, I hope."