Jan. 7, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEORay Ratto
We slagged him like a disobedient puppy, and we made fun of his age and experience level and the way he goes about what he is trying to accomplishment, but fairs fair. Jed York got his guy, and apparently at his price.
Now all he has to be is right.
Jim Harbaugh is now, for good and ill, the new face of the 49ers, replacing Sourdough Sam, who replaced Mike Singletary, who replaced Mike Nolan, who replaced John York, who replaced Steve Mariucci. Five years, 5M per, and all he has to do is build a quarterback out of whole cloth and a legitimate Super Bowl contender out of clay and landfill.
In short, the job he has now makes his reconstruction of Stanford look like a Malibu Barbie Dream House made of Popsicle sticks.
But we can start grading Harbaugh and his Respect the game, respect the process and Whats YOUR deal? sloganeering another day. This is Jeds triumph, if it in fact is that, and credit must be paid.
Not as much as you think, of course. If this was the unfettered triumph it will be portrayed as being, Harbaugh would never have had his army of agents hawk his wares across the nation. Hed have said, Sounds good, Jed. Im on board right away.
That didnt happen, though, and one can only assume that hed done all he could do at Stanford, wanted to give the NFL a try, which is why he rejected Michigan, and turned down the Dolphins over control issues, since he was offered significantly more to wear teal and orange and fish-motif caps.
Some might say that was reason enough to turn down the Dolphins, but thats another story.
You wont get the straight story as to why he chose San Francisco after the bizarre process the nation endured watching him make up his mind. Hell portray this as his dream job, the Bay Area as his Nirvana, and his enthusiasm about leading the 49ers to multiple Super Bowls from their new stadium in Santa Clara. He can be programmed, and he can spin a plate.
So ignore all that, and simply acknowledge that he got a gig he considers better, for more money than he was making. Really, other than the dramatic drop-off at quarterback from his old job, he stepped up in the world of men running into other men at high rates of speed, and now he can prove his wizardry at the highest level there is.
If, in fact, he can prove it. The 49ers are not as close to glory as their fans want to believe, it took Bill Walsh three years to hit the jackpot, and he has a live quarterback even before Joe Montana. In short, Harbaughs going to need all five of those years to make this thing work the way Stanford did after four.
But for the moment, this is Jed Yorks triumph. Target sighted, target acquired. Even after misleading folks on his general manager plans (Trent Baalke rather than experience, dont forget), he was as good as his fantasies on this one, and those of us who enjoyed teeing off on him for apparently blundering through the process need to acknowledge that while he did blunder through it, the process came back to him and he closed the deal when it needed to be closed.
In summation, Jed is off the hook, just as Harbaugh is on it. But the hook will never be that far away, not in this market, not with this team. This was a good day for Jed York, and we will see how many more will follow.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.