I have a question for the foolish faction of the 49er Faithful who finally spit out the Kool-Aid when Mike Singletary got fired last week.
Do you still want winners?
The team has now missed the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, going 45-82 (.354) during that stretch. Despite their efforts, Patrick Willis and Frank Gore’s best years are going to waste.
Wait, I have a second question.
Do you still believe that Jed York is going to seriously consider uncle Eddie DeBartolo's blueprint on how to successfully run a professional football franchise?
With a sweetheart stadium deal in place after exploiting the residents of Santa Clara, and profit margins on the up-and-up thanks to season ticket sales and merchandising revenue, there is no incentive for neither Jed nor his father John to change their ways.
In short, Niner fans, you've been enablers. And it's time to stand up for yourselves.
A FOREGONE CONCLUSION
With in-house Trent Baalke all but a formality to be hired as the new general manager (and on the cheap, might I add), I think I can tell you the Yorks' next move.
To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Jon Gruden's not coming through that door. You can forget about Bill Cowher, too.
Rather, they're going to pin their hopes on Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh and cross their fingers. Brian Billick would seem like a logical backup option, but do the Yorks want the guy who gave them both Mike Nolan and Singletary? Never mind that he’s won a Super Bowl.
Public perception has often trumped actual results for this regime. Maybe I'm wrong, but past history will indicate otherwise.
In all honesty, Harbaugh is actually the right hire (and this is coming from a Cal alum, so you know I’ve laid my biases to rest).
But even then, if the "Compassionate and Cruel One" were offered the job, would he (or anyone competent/sane) want to work for an ownership group so rash and unstable that they would illogically fire their coach with only one game left in the year?
I do not see the purpose behind Singletary’s exit except to temporarily appease the incensed fans foaming at the mouths for blood. With the team already eliminated from playoff contention once again, I doubt that seven more days of Round Two between Samurai Mike and Troy Smith would change the complexion of the team’s immediate and long-term future.
The terrifying prospect of sending out sixth-year, $35 million bust Alex Smith to fail in the fourth quarter one last time wouldn’t add further substantial damage to an already embattled franchise.
If anything, the abrupt dismissal served as a chilling message to any potential candidates brave enough to take the opening, one reminiscent of the ramifications of stealing someone else’s girlfriend--if she did it for you, she can do it to you.
Even the legendary DeBartolo, who was known for breaking a few household appliances after losses and almost fired Bill Walsh himself after one such outing, exhibited the poise and foresight to wait until the end of a trying season to make changes in personnel.
Who can forget his reply to a reporter’s inquiry regarding ineffective offensive coordinator Marc Trestman after the 1996 playoff blowout loss to Green Bay?
“He’s gone. Next question.”
Now that was an owner. The five Super Bowl rings, 13 division titles and 16 playoff berths prove it.
Speaking of empirical evidence, if the 2008 Democrats (or to a lesser extent, the 2010 Tea Party) can serve as a template, there is nothing a united front of Niner fans can't achieve. So what can be done?
A CALL TO ACTION
You can show the Yorks what you think about their "leadership" by giving up your season tickets and watching the games through other channels instead. Nothing like an empty stadium for an owner to suffer public ridicule from the media. And if you're not going to do that, then you need to come out in full force with signs or attire that reflect your disgust, as well as organized chants directed at ownership so that they come out loud and clear, especially on a national broadcast. The Sunday Night Football game against the Eagles this year was a prime example.
You can stop pumping millions of dollars in revenue into their less-than-accountable pockets by boycotting the team store. Get your merchandise from other fans on eBay, or if you’ve been a real fan all these years, stick with what you’ve got until the Yorks prove to you that they are deserving of your money.
You can flood the front office and voice your displeasure with phone calls, e-mails and a Miracle on 34th Street-sized bounty of letters. If you want to show the Yorks they are out of touch with the 49er Faithful, then let them know en masse. They’re not going to care if they can count the correspondence with one hand.
In sum, you can force the Yorks to change. You can flip the script and make them bend at your will, instead of the other way around. Niner fans, you can take your franchise back.
Until then, get ready for more of the same.