Ratto: Firing exposes 49ers' broken chain of command


Ratto: Firing exposes 49ers' broken chain of command

Ray RattoCSNBayArea.com
Jed York will credit himself with being decisive and bold in firing Mike Singletary. He will say all the right things about Singletarys role in saving the franchise from creeping Nolanism, and thank Singletary for doing what he was capable of doing while he was capable of doing it.And then he will forget that the thing that most keeps the 49ers from being the best 49ers they can be is not the coach who got fired, but the fact that it was Jed who fired him, rather than the general manager who has the full and unfettered run of the football department.NEWS: 49ers fire head coach Mike Singletary
Singletary has been psychoanalyzed into a thin gray paste almost from the day he was hired. He was the motivator, the man with one hand in the glorious past and a child-frightening glare into the future, the man who believed in all the old verities of football when NFL Films were actually films.But this is not that football, and his persistent inability to show a second gear doomed him. And in a results-based world like the NFL, one can only conclude that it was richly merited. The last memory of him arguing with Troy Smith, and Smith having the temerity to argue back is the perfect summation of his 40 games. No more motivation, no more inspiration, no more This is what worked in the good old days and it must work now.The what comes next part, though, is all about Jed ending the Boy King portion of his regime and distancing himself from the day-to-day fretting about the coach. That Jed fired Singletary speaks not to The buck stops here, but to Theres nobody else to do this. It is the streamlined table of organization at its worst.RELATED: 49ers release statement from Jed York
While all the speculation of the next few weeks or months will surround the next coach, the million-pound elephant is at the other side of the desk, and it always has been.Singletary was a band-aid to get peoples minds off Mike Nolan, the new face of the franchise. But Singletarys job in a nutshell was to develop a new face of the franchise from the playing ranks, and he couldnt do it. Or, in some cases, wouldnt do it. He lurched between the humble supplicant and the omnipotent lawgiver, the stony-faced leader and the frantic delegator, and like most of his football decisions, nobody was ever quite sure what Singletary would be on the job at any given time.None of that would have been countenanced by an experienced general manager. A coach can be many things, but not all at the same time, and the general manager would have seen to it that Singletary picked a lane and stayed in it.
NEWS: York says 49ers will hire GM
But there was no such help for him, so he led with his face week in and week out, defenseless against a team that needed steady tactical leadership. Yes, he became a figure of fun, but he was as much victim as perpetrator, and if York doesnt see that, he will make the same mistake again, and the 49ers will extend their eight-year streak of laughable irrelevance into double digits.He has been told this before, many times, by smarter football people than any you will read here or anywhere else. And perhaps he sees this as the biggest impediment to succeeding where his father could not, and already considers that Job One. If so, good on him.If not, Mike Singletarys sacrifice, if youll pardon the quasi-religious allegory, will have been in vain. Singletary served by showing the organization its most persistent and serious flaw the brains behind the face of the franchise. If Jed York repairs that, he owes Singletary a debt that even the last two years of his contract cannot repay.And if he doesnt, hes no smarter than he was the day his dad kicked him upstairs to run the team the old man could no longer enjoy. Its really no more complicated than that, unless Jed wants it to be. And lets face it, nobody gets to be the Boy King forever. At some point, he becomes just another adult, and adults are graded not on potential but on results.

Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal


Internet immediately goes to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal

In what can be considered your standard bolt out of the blue, California head football coach Sonny Dykes has reportedly been fired.

In what can be considered your standard spur-of-the-Internet-moment-connect-the-dots inspiration, the Internet went immediately to DefCon1 on Chip Kelly-to-Cal rumors.

The logic, of course, is impeccable. Dykes never really snapped the Cal program around, taking a bad program and making it, well, mediocre, and he has spent much of the past two years aggressively seeking out other jobs, so one can assume there was at least some trouble in paradise, even if you want to make the case that Cal football and paradise are somehow connected.

And Kelly just got canned by the 49ers as part of Jed York’s latest I-will-not-be-made-to-look-ridiculous twitch, so he could sign a properly modest contract at Berkeley and still get his full $6 million with the offset from the three years left on his Jed deal.

So it makes perfect sense . . . which is why it should be judged with considerable skepticism.

For one, Kelly can almost surely do better in the college job diaspora. Cal is a big name with modest ambitions due in part to constant budget constraints, and there are better jobs out there even if he sits for a year.

For two, Cal and Kelly are an odd fit, given the persistent tensions between academia and athletica at Berkeley.

For three, the job comes with massive roadblocks, including Stanford, USC, Washington and (potentially) a resuscitation of the Oregon he left behind. Success will not come easy, if it does at all.

For four, Cal just finished four years of gimmick offense and overburdened defense, and Kelly would provide a more successful version of the same.

And for five, this is too easy, too simple, too convenient. Something about this scenario must be wrong somewhere. When people hit the Internet with photoshopped Kelly-in-Cal-costumes within minutes of the Dykes announcement, you know this is too obvious to actually come to fruition.

Why? Because we don’t live that well, that’s why.

The beauty of a triumphant Kelly at Cal glowering down at the charred ruin in Santa Clara seems more appealing than it actually is, because try as they might, Cal fans will never be backing the more popular horse here, and Kelly won’t win that battle unless he takes Cal to the Rose Bowl while the 49ers are still grappling over draft positions.

In that way, reality sucks. The idea that Jed York could be mocked in collegial absentia by his two biggest coaching hires is delicious but almost surely illusory.

But until we get more on why Dykes got canned 43 days after the team’s last game – recruiting, academic issues, legal issues, photocopier problems from him sending his resume out so often – all we have is the Chip Kelly rumor-ette to keep us intrigued.

Okay, to keep us amused.

Okay, to keep us from falling over in a coma. Cal should matter more than it does, but it’s been 13 years since the Holiday Bowl zenith of the Jeff Tedford Era, and 25 since Bruce Snyder took the Ursines to the Citrus Bowl. The evidence since 1990 is of a team with bigger dreams than means that is slightly below .500 (160-164). Sonny Dykes leaving means one more coach who didn’t make an impact unless his departure leads to either reassessment of the program’s standards, internal or external sanctions . . .

. . . or what the hell, Chip Kelly. Let’s face it – in these dismal days for wacked-out rumormongering, this is pretty intoxicating stuff.

Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports


Warriors are most geographically vague team in history of American sports

The Philadelphia/San Francisco/Golden State Warriors have always had a casual attitude about their home court, even by the once-flexible standards of the National Basketball Association.

Thus, it should be only slightly amusing but not actually surprising that Warriors chief arenologist Rick Welts is now waffling a bit (courtesy Comrade Poole) on whether the team will change its name to San Francisco Warriors when it moves across the pond in 2019-20, or retain its current geographic association with Narnia.

I mean Golden State. I often confuse utterly fictional locales – when I can be bothered to give a toss either way.

But the Warriors, whether they play in Oakland, San Francisco, Pier 30, Pier 32, Westeros, Hobbiton, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, Curryvania, the Klingon Empire, the Death Star or Planet Nine, are relocating, and once they break the seal on the earth in 12 days, Welts and his fellow elves will almost surely play the team’s future name as a mildly tedious cliffhanger.

Hey, fun is where you find it.

The matter of the team’s relocation will be a sore subject among lifelong East Bay residents, who have put up with the Warriors for 45 years in various stages of development, including the current “We Almost Never Lose” stage. They regard the Warriors’ transplantation to San Francisco to be an unspeakable crime given the high level of fan allegiance afforded them in Oakland.

And yes, they regard Oakland and San Francisco as very real places, as opposed to Golden State, Freedonia, Vulgaria or the Nexus of All Realities.

It is not yet fully known what San Franciscans think of this development, but that’s the nature of the gamble here. They may embrace the Warriors as the new toy in town and then lose interest, and frankly, neither Welts nor anyone else knows the answer to that.

Either way, their die is cast, and Joe Lacob and Peter Guber are now future former Oakland fixtures. Yes, they are quite fond of the exciting new real estate values and their exciting new unobstructed view of the bay, but it has long been assumed that the move would also entail changing the name back to “San Francisco” for the snob appeal.

Now Welts, who has overseen both arena projects (including the one at Piers 30 and 32 which ended up with the piers beating the Warriors in a rout), tells Comrade Poole that the San Francisco Warriors might not end up as the San Francisco Warriors after all.

“Four years ago, I think the conventional wisdom in our building here in Oakland was that yes, we should attach a city name to the team, then it becomes a more global franchise,” Welts marketing-gobbledy-gooked. “There was a lot of head-scratching four years ago about where the Golden State Warriors even played, in other parts of the world. What’s happened with the team over the course of the ensuing years, until today, has made the Warriors if not the preeminent, at least among the three best-known NBA franchises around the world. And everybody who didn’t know where the Golden State Warriors were four years ago, if you’re a fan today, anywhere in the world, you know where the Golden State Warriors are.”

In Oakland.

Now, the mic drop.

“The team’s success has caused us to really rethink whether or not that’s something we should or want to do,” he added. “I guess it’s fair to say there’s been no final decision made. But if you were a betting man, I think you would probably want to wager that the name might remain the same.”

Of course. Why not stay fictional when specificity might move fewer hoodies?

Then again, this is a team that in its 70 years has played home games in Philadelphia (the Arena, the Civic Center, Lincoln High School and Convention Hall), Hershey and Bethlehem PA, Atlantic City, Trenton, Collingswood and Camden NJ, and Saratoga Springs NY . . .

(a moment’s rest here to catch our breaths)

. . . and then after moving west in 1962, the Cow Palace, San Francisco Civic Auditorium and USF’s Memorial Gym, the Oakland Auditorium, San Jose Civic Auditorium, San Jose Arena, Richmond Auditorium, then Sacramento, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Diego, Eugene, Seattle, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

In fact, and you can swindle the gullible at your neighborhood tavern with this one, the Warriors’ first game in San Francisco occurred almost three years before the team left Philadelphia. The Warriors played the visitors to the Minneapolis Lakers, who moved to Los Angeles a year later and had already played a regular season game at the Cow Palace earlier in the year, so this game, January 31, 1960, could have been considered a civic scouting trip for both teams as they sought new homes.

In other words, the Warriors are almost surely the most geographically vague team in the history of North American sports. Moreover, they are about to become the first team in sports history to go home for the third time under three different city names – Philadelphia, San Francisco and Krypton, or whatever the hell they want to call themselves this time.