Never mind that other than being born into the right family, he didn't really do a damn thing to earn his position. Jed York as the 49ers' CEO has never felt quite right, and now it feels flat-out wrong.
At least it's pretty clear why he seems to prefer to stay out of the spotlight. When he's in it, he comes off as nothing short of the smug, entitled punk — a caricature — that it was assumed he'd be when he was gifted the keys to the castle.
So points for self-awareness, but that's where the scoreboard shorts out.
“Win with class,” York says is the goal, the implication being that while Jim Harbaugh did a lot of winning, he didn't do it with enough class. Now, if you're a regular reader of this space, you know that the feeling here is that Harbaugh's general comportment has often left much to be desired. But good God, if there's a side to take in this whole mess, how can you not side with Set-Jaw Jim after York's meaningless Monday news conference?
Class? Is there a single thing about York in this that says class? One of the lowlights of the whole episode was the tweet he sent out on Thanksgiving night, and he tried to defend and justify that tweet Monday. But as usual, he butchered it. He basically said he just wanted the fans to know that he appreciated their support and he was sorry that they changed their holiday routines to show that support, only to be disappointed by the team's performance.
Here's a tip for the next time such a situation arises, Jed: Send out a tweet saying thanks for the incredible support, tell the fans they are awesome and leave it at that. Anything beyond that leaves the interpretation window wide open and all sorts of unseemly things can climb through. Besides, give the fans some credit. They know they aren't guaranteed victory in exchange for support, and it's not like the Niners didn't play hard in that game. There was nothing for which to apologize! It was a loss.
If every owner apologized to the paying customers for every loss via Twitter, Mark Davis would have come down with a wicked case of carpal tunnel syndrome a long time ago. Al Davis might very well have become the first person in history to have died from it. Lew Wolff would be pricing braces as we speak in anticipation of next season mess.
Class? There certainly wasn't an ounce of it apparent Monday, when York somehow managed to talk for close to an hour without saying a single thing of substance. The classy thing to do would have been to apologize for not being able to sublimate his ego in order to retain the second-best coach in franchise history. The classy thing to do would have been to explain exactly what went wrong, when and where and why, and how he plans to prevent it from happening down the road.
Instead we got generalities, misdirection, cliches.
Granted, there's an art to being able to yap and yap and yap without really offering anything of substance, and it can be useful in professional sports. A's general manager Billy Beane is an absolute master of the nonanswer answer. But when Beane is being evasive, you can barely tell, because he's doing it with an intelligence and a charm that suck you in, that make you want to hear something in the nothingness. It's only when he's done that you realize you were duped.
York, who we must assume has some smarts in certain areas of life, doesn't have that kind of intelligence or charm. Or class.
As such, neither — for now, at least — do the Niners.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).