Jed York would 'love' to have dinner with Jim Harbaugh

Jed York would 'love' to have dinner with Jim Harbaugh

It has been nearly 30 months since Jed York and Jim Harbaugh shared an awkward pregame embrace on Harbaugh's final day as 49ers coach.

The two have gone in different directions.

York and the 49ers have experienced a rapid decline. After a 2-14 season, York made the move to hire Kyle Shanahan as the 49ers' fourth coach in four seasons. Meanwhile, Harbaugh has thrived as head coach of Michigan, his alma mater.

On the MMQB Podcast with Peter King, York addressed what was announced as a "mutual parting."

"I don’t know if 'regret' is the right word," York said. "We had a lot of success together. We tried several times to get an extension done with Jim and, for whatever reason, those didn't culminate. And ultimately, as successful as it was here, I think Jim is very happy and he's doing an unbelievable job at Michigan.

"We obviously didn’t have success after Jim left. I don’t know that we'd be sitting here with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan if something happened. And I don’t know that it would have worked in the long-term if we did get something done. I regret how we performed the last two years. I regret that the relationship was frayed between me and a coach that, you know, did a lot of great things for this franchise."

York said he saw Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother, at the NFL owners meetings in Arizona. John Harbaugh told York he should get together with Jim and have dinner at some point to clear the air.

"I said, 'I'd love to do that.' I’d love to get together," York said. "And I think enough time has kind of passed where you can let whatever issues were there be buried and just truly be thankful for three great years when nobody expected us, certainly in 2011, to beat the Saints the way we did, to get close and, you know, be two muffed punts away from going to a Super Bowl in ‘11.

"And Just all the things that happened, and I'd love to sit down with Jim. Not in front of cameras, not in front of anybody else, but just share an evening with him and truly say 'Thank you,' and wish him the best of luck. Not obviously when he plays Notre Dame, but for the rest of the season, wish him the best of luck."

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.”

York, Shanahan and the question of whether to 'bro hug'

York, Shanahan and the question of whether to 'bro hug'

PHOENIX – Without officially offering Kyle Shanahan the job at the conclusion of the 49ers’ second meeting with the then-Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, CEO Jed York said he made it clear what he was thinking.

And that led to an awkward moment late on the evening of Jan. 27 after 49ers executives Paraag Marathe and Brian Hampton, who were present during the interview, left York alone with the man who would become head coach.

“I let him know, very, very clearly that he was at the very top end of our list,” York said on the 49ers Insider Podcast from the NFL owners meetings.

"And it was one of those situations where we kind of shook hands and it was one of those things . . . Do you bro hug here? Do you not bro hug? What do you do? And I wanted to kind of play it cool so (we) didn't do the bro hug right then.

“But it was clear that we had a chemistry and a connection and that the 49ers mean something to Kyle. I mean, some of his formative years, being with his dad when we won our last Super Bowl -- it means something to him.”

Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, served as George Seifert’s offensive coordinator during the 49ers’ championship season of 1994. Shanahan became the head coach of the Denver Broncos shortly after the 49ers’ victory over the San Diego Chargers in the Super Bowl.

Mike Shanahan was a finalist for the 49ers’ head-coaching openings when Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly were hired, York said. Kyle Shanahan could have re-joined his dad as offensive coordinator with a succession plan to eventually take over as head coach. The 49ers were also interested in hiring Kyle Shanahan to Tomsula’s staff in 2015. Instead, Shanahan decided to become offensive coordinator on Dan Quinn’s staff with the Atlanta Falcons.

Although the 49ers officially hired general manager John Lynch before finalizing the deal with Shanahan after the Super Bowl, the decision was made to hire Shanahan before Lynch became a candidate for the position to replace Trent Baalke.

The 49ers have not invested in big-money free agents, but the club has been considerably more active in free agency this offseason with the signings of such players as quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, receivers Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson, defensive lineman Earl Mitchell and linebacker Malcolm Smith. The 49ers also acquired Pro Bowl center Jeremy Zuttah in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens.

“Obviously, with a 2-14 team, you need to turn some things over and start building the identity that your coach and general manager really want,” York said. “I think that’s what this free agency was all about.”

The immediate aftermath of the season was also about York admitting mistakes and making the moves he believes can turn around the franchise. After the 49ers parted ways with Jim Harbaugh following an 8-8 season in 2014, the club lost many of its veteran leaders and plummeted to the depths of the NFL with records of 5-11 and 2-14 under Tomsula and Kelly.

“My approach is always, be aggressive,” York said. “Try to shoot for the stars. I don’t want to be a 9-7 team. That’s just not what I’m aiming to do. And if you make mistakes, make them quickly, learn from them and move on. And I think we certainly made mistakes with our last two hires.

“I think Kyle is going to be a great addition to this team and to this franchise and somebody we can build around for the next, you know, 10, 20, 30 years. And that’s what I really want to do. The more you can stay stable and the more you can have the same people running your organization, the better chance you can have for long-term sustained success. . . . And I think we have the right people to build this franchise from the football perspective.”