Editor's note: The video above is from Jim Tomsula's introductory press conference on Jan. 15.
Jed York was searching for a comp, a hypothetical spin that would support his actions while sprinkling glitter and optimism upon a skeptical 49ers fan base.
The 49ers CEO, speaking to Sports Illustrated offshoot Monday Morning Quarterback, compared the current state of his franchise to that of the Warriors in the summer of 2014.
Why not just reach for a straw during a tornado?
York specifically compared the January promotion of Jim Tomsula to replace fired head coach Jim Harbaugh with the Warriors’ decision 14 months ago to dismiss Mark Jackson and bring in Steve Kerr.
“Culture is huge; that’s the difference between a championship-caliber team and a championship team,” York told MMQB. “You look at the Golden State Warriors. They were the dumbest team in the NBA for letting Mark Jackson go, who won the most games in the franchise’s history. How could you be so dumb? They bring in Steve Kerr, who has been around the game for a long period of time but has never coached before. Kerr changes the culture, comes in with a different perspective, and look what happens.”
Kerr and his new staff, as we know, delivered the Warriors their first NBA championship in 40 years.
York’s comparison, however, is wrong, wrong, wrong -- and it included a generous pile of grotesquely stretched inaccuracies. Let us count the ways...
1) York’s statement included a statistical air ball: Jackson did not win the most games in franchise history. No coach in the franchise’s Bay Area history won more games with the team than Al Attles. Kerr became the single-season leader.
2) Though Kerr and Tomsula have spent decades around their respective sports, Kerr actually played 15 seasons in the NBA. Tomsula played in college but never reached the NFL. Kerr has been a general manager and a TV analyst. Tomsula has never been a coordinator.
3) The Warriors in the summer of 2014 were on the climb, coming off consecutive winning seasons for the first time in six years.
The current 49ers are two seasons removed from the Super Bowl and coming off their first non-winning season in four years -- both indicators of decline. They’re on the back end of a revival generated under Harbaugh.
4) Kerr didn’t so much as change the culture as inherit a good one and give it a fresh coach of paint. The Warriors locker room was cohesive when he arrived. Warriors CEO Joe Lacob acknowledged as much when he dumped Jackson. The problem, as Lacob and others saw it, was the wall between Jackson and those outside the roster and his staff.
5) After Jackson lifted the Warriors from wretched to good, Lacob sought someone who could take them from good to potentially great. That always requires audacity.
The 49ers went from wretched to exceptional and back to ordinary under Harbaugh. They need someone who can re-organize, put pieces together. They need a reboot.
6) The comparison, unspoken by York, was that between himself and Warriors CEO Joe Lacob. That doesn’t fly either.
Lacob checked behind doors and under rocks in a search to enrich the franchise with with high-level -- and outspoken -- executive talent. He could not have done better than Jerry West and Rick Welts.
York leaned heavily on general manager Trent Baalke, who was on board when Jed arrived to seize the franchise reins from his embattled father, Dr. John York.
Look, York has every right to replace his coach. Harbaugh had worn out his welcome with many. I get that. But this desperate grasp for a neat comparison missed the mark.
In replacing Jackson with Kerr, Lacob made a bold move that invited skepticism. His decision was validated in record time. His team went from contender to champion.
If 49ers bounce back and win Super Bowl 50, which will be played in Santa Clara, York can stand at the podium, champagne dripping from his hair, and tell everybody he knew he was right all along.
But it’s not wise to brag about what has yet to happen.
It’s also smart to leave the Warriors out of this. They’ve just completed the best season they’ve ever known -- one of the most remarkable in Bay Area sports history. They’re the hottest team on the planet.
It’s admirable to set the bar high, but Jed’s comments didn’t set a bar. They invited ridicule. And they turned up the heat on your new head coach.