York's first call was to Uncle Eddie

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York's first call was to Uncle Eddie

The first call Jed York made upon departing Candlestick Park last Saturday in the wake of the 49ers' divisional playoff win over New Orleans?To his uncle and godfather Eddie DeBartolo."To see if he'd be the honorary captain," York, the 49ers President and CEO, said on a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. "Without the hard work my uncle put in, the brand would not be what it is."
DeBartolo may have been shamed with his connection to gambling and corruption in Louisiana and forced to give up his ownership stake in the 49ers at the turn of the century, but those are not the memories coursing through the veins of the 49ers Faithful this week, as the team prepares to play host to the New York Giants Sunday in the NFC title game.No wonder the 30-year-old York, who was some 10 months old when The Catch went down and the dynasty was born, has been having so many flashbacks this week. York grew up in the 49ers dynasty of the 80's and was 13 when the 49ers won their fifth, and most recent Super Bowl, in 1995."I am a balding guy, though" he said with a laugh, "so it might make me look old."Driving around San Francisco, York has seen "people wearing Niners gear they busted out of their closet they haven't worn in 10 years."People are walking around in Frank Gore and Patrick Willis (jerseys) just as much as Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig. It's pretty cool to see."A year ago, York was lambasted for predicting the 49ers would win the NFC West after starting the season 0-5. Now, he is one step away from the biggest sporting event in the country."Our internal expectations and external expectations are always different," he said. "We expect to compete for a Super Bowl every year. I realize this wasn't on everybody's radar screen."York was also asked about a variety of other topics on the callOn if the plan is still to be in a new stadium in Santa Clara in 2014: "I don't know if that's possible. I think 2015 is achievable."On the visiting fans who reported being harassed at the game last week: "That was a very small segment from Saints fans. And I apologize for any rudeness that might have happenedthat type of behavior is not tolerated." (York also said there would be more undercover police in the stadium this week.)On what appeals to him about coach Jim Harbaugh: "He's very enthusiastic but it's a very focused enthusiasm. You know what you're going to get with Jim and I just think it's very consistentJim has a great work ethic and a competitive spirit."On why Harbaugh connects with QB Alex Smith: "You need somebody that understands the most important position on the field."On when the players bought into Harbaugh: "The guys know when people are BS'ing them, because they see it all the time. They feel Jim's just-genuine spiritit's real and that means a lot to these guys." (York said Harbaugh and Kyle Williams were discussing in the lunch room today who they thought was the best baseball player of all time.)On Alex Smith's development: "I'm so happy for Alex. He's battled a lot in his career herequarterbacking in this league is so much aboutdeveloping a guy.your need to have somebody who can bring out those thingsit would have been easy (for Alex) to say, 'Let's find a different place.' He wanted to be here because he's a 49er."On Smith's future with the 49ers: "It's a two-way street and we'll get to that when the season's over. I'm very glad he is our quarterback. I hope he wants to stay here."On this year's team developing its own tradition: "It's not Joe Montana, it's not Steve Young, it's not Jerry Rice, and that's O.K.try to be something you're not, you most likely fail."

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."