Jed York and the 49ers' impulsiveness

December, 28, 2010
12/28/10
12:30
PM ET
There's no harm when a fan says he wants the head coach fired or the quarterback traded following a stupefying defeat -- or even after a particularly horrendous play.

Fans react.

When Joe Nedney's field goal sailed through on the San Francisco 49ers' final play of the final game of the 2008 regular season, the team had won four of its final five games under interim coach Mike Singletary.

[+] EnlargeJed York
AP Photo/Dino Vournas49ers president Jed York said the team would first hire a GM before finding a new head coach.
The natural, emotional reaction: Hire the man right now!

That is what the 49ers did. Their young team president, Jed York, seemed swept up in the moment the way a fan, not a team executive, might be swept up in the moment.

My take at the time:
"The 49ers' decision to hire Mike Singletary immediately following their final regular season game seemed to qualify as a hasty move.

"Reports described a seemingly breathless Jed York making a quick, bold move in his first hours as team president. The 49ers came off like a team using an exclamation point after every sentence.

"Mike Singletary did a great job! Let's hire him right now! OMG! Next season is going to be soooo great! This is the last time a 49ers season will end in December!"

That didn't necessarily mean the 49ers made the wrong move. But it was clear Singletary would have to make the right decision at offensive coordinator, and it was unclear whether he could do so -- or handle the jump from position coach to face of the franchise.

We now know the 49ers acted hastily. There are signs similar impulsiveness has driven recent moves.

When the 49ers opened the season 0-5, York reacted with the bluster of a frustrated fan bellying up to the bar for another cold one. He publicly guaranteed the team would win the NFC West. York made a similar pledge upon hiring Singletary, suggesting a return to playoff form was imminent.

Within minutes of the 49ers' elimination from playoff contention Sunday, York was sending strong signals that Singletary would not last long. He was reacting. York fired Singletary later that night upon returning to team headquarters from St. Louis.

Firing Singletary was the right move, but York's obvious need to make the change right away raised questions in my mind about his temperament. Were the emotions of the moment driving the swiftness of the decision? If so, how might this impulsiveness come into play down the line?

York said some of the right things Monday when he told reporters the team would hire a general manager, and that the GM would make the important decision from there, starting with hiring a head coach. The 49ers will be best served if that GM has the strength to resist the impulses that seem to drive York from time to time.

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