SANTA CLARA — Jed York cleared house after the 49ers finished 2-14 in the 2016 season. On Thursday, the CEO stood proudly as he introduced new head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch.
Shanahan and Lynch are young, intelligent and have had success in the NFL — just not at the positions they now assume.
But, Shanahan was a sought-after candidate after leading the most prolific offense in the league last season with the Atlanta Falcons. And his success in the NFC South wasn’t unprecedented as he’s been behind six groups that led the NFL in total yards.
So, did York feel vindicated after several of his critics questioned whether the 49ers could land top-flight talent after firing their head coach in three consecutive seasons?
“I think these are hands down the two best guys,” York said. “… I think when you look at Kyle, when you look at John and you look at the teams that they’re starting to build, we’re starting to put together something that I think has a chance to be special. But again, it’s not about vindication. It’s about what work can we put in to get to where we want to go. And it’s getting to Market Street. It’s taking a ride with the mayor of San Francisco and hoisting the Lombardi trophy. That’s what we’re here to do.”
That wasn’t the only time York referenced parading down The City’s main thoroughfare after winning a Super Bowl, but his new hires have been given assurances that this isn’t a win-now situation.
Shanahan said he appreciated how he could speak honestly with York about where the longtime offensive coordinator saw where the Niners stood.
“When a guy is committed and gives you a six-year contract, it shows that he’s willing to give you some time,” Shanahan said. “What I didn’t want to do was come here and make a bunch of decisions just trying to win to save ourselves right away.”
Despite the assurance of patience, it’s going to be a long road for Lynch, who is tasked with overhauling a lacking roster.
But, he’s already taken steps toward instilling the kind of championship culture — one of York’s favorite phrases from his Jan. 2 press conference — by insisting on making the 49ers’ facility a welcoming place to some of the team’s former stars. And Lynch said he wasn’t going to leave his cush position as a broadcaster until he received that assurance from York.
“My conversations with [former 49er greats], I told them, we can’t ride their coattails. We have to do it on our own,” Lynch said. “But it sure helps to have a great example right in front of us.”
And with the new braintrust entering together after vetting each other in the hiring process, it’s apparent the winds of change are blowing around the South Bay.