No one ever said that taking over the bombed-out ruins of a once-vaunted football empire would be an easy task for a dynamic Jed York.
We knew that when he hired venerable Hall of Famer Mike Singletary—a class act and an intelligent man—there would be stumbling blocks.
What many didn't know was that a meltdown at general manager would be a stumbling block that threw a huge stick into the spokes of the wheel to winning that we thought was just beginning to turn after accumulating rust for so many years.
During that tough time, York demonstrated enviable attributes that many people who are much older fail to display, and they are: decency, loyalty, dignity and respect.
To this day, most people do not know—and have no business knowing—what led the former general manager to depart.
Rather, we had a tight-lipped York wishing the GM and his family well, as any decent person would do.
Although the GM's departure was unsettling and did not seem to bode well, many fans were impressed by Singletary's confidence. We felt the 49ers were in good hands. We moved on.
York made a sober decision that did not work out.
With that realization this week, York did not shrink from responsibility. He did what many owners would not do: fire a coach with a game left.
My feeling is that he did it not only to make the change that was needed, but to make a statement to the entire organization and its woeful and well-paid underachievers who take the field (the achievers know who they are and do not have to be worried).
For me, York has done a scintillating job in the face of adversity. Plus, who doesn't make mistakes?
Time will tell if he can return our team to greatness.
As expected, there is no shortage of critics.
To be specific, York's performance has been unsatisfactory for longtime Bay Area sports columnist Lowell Cohn.
At the news conference York held today, Cohn challenged York to the point of being disrespectful, in my opinion.
It is worth repeating the exchange that I first heard on KNBR today. Cohn, to his credit, published it on The Press Democrat's web site. I have only included a small fraction of it:
Cohn: Who are you going to talk to to help you?
York: Who would you talk to if you were me?
Cohn: I would talk to very good owners and general managers around the league who know more than you do.
York: Like my uncle who’s won five Super Bowls and some other folks like the Krafts and folks like that who have built championship-caliber teams.
Cohn: I wish you could tell us some more. This is for the fan base, not just for us.
I remember Cohn's columns in The Sporting Green when The Chronicle actually printed its sports pages in green.
Way back when Cohn and I were a lot younger, had Bill Walsh, Carmen Policy and Eddie DeBartolo listened to him, they would not be five-time Lombardi winners.
They would be in St. Louis.
Now that the Singletary experiment did not work out, York has shown he has the intellect, the decency, the maturity and the experience to change course when things go awry.
Don't forget that he inherited a collapsed franchise.
Today is a sad day for 49ers fans who liked Singletary but realized it just wasn't working out.
Yet if anyone knows anything about Singletary, they know he is a man of a deeply held Christian faith. He is a man who lives that faith with every breath and step he takes.
It is that faith that will sustain him.
Thank you, Coach Singletary, for your hard work, sacrifices and loyalty.
As for Jed York: Go Niners, and keep those smack-downs coming.