San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York spoke with Bloomberg Television's Cory Johnson Tuesday about the retirement of 24-year-old linebacker Chris Borland, impact of former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, the possible return of defensive lineman Justin Smith, and the outlook for next season.
Below is the transcript of their conversation:
JOHNSON: Well then so talk about best of the Bay area. Here you are trying to manage one of the most important businesses -- businesses flat out in a pro bowl of business leaders, whether it is Tim Cook or it's all the other people I cover that I won't be so nice to on the air, but I think the world of sometimes. You have got to be one of the best managers around here. And you're faced with surprises, the big news of today. You've got a 24-year-old linebacker after one breakout year, fantastic draft pick by you guys, announcing his retirement. What do you make of Chris Borland's retirement?
YORK: And we respect it, and I -- I love Chris. He's a great kid. And it's certainly a surprise to -- to us and I think to some of his teammates. But you have to respect the decision. If -- if he fears for his health and safety going forward, I don't ever want somebody to go out there and do something that they're not comfortable doing. And I would never try to talk somebody out of retirement. I know it wasn't an easy decision for him, but we -- we respect him and we wish him the best.
JOHNSON: When you go across the -- the defense of core of your defensive-oriented team, I mean you have got Patrick Willis retiring. You have got -- it's unclear what is happening with Justin Smith. You're got Chris Borland leaving. Well do we know what is happening with Justin Smith yet?
YORK: So Justin has been working out with the guys. I'm not sure if he's made up his mind yet. I know he's still in that decision-making process. We obviously would love to have Justin back, but he has got to -- he has got to be comfortable going out there and putting his body through it one more year. And if he is not, we are going to have to -- to step up and have somebody else make plays.
JOHNSON: And again I got to ask you about your coach. So you made -- you made a really tough decision about what was going on with your coach. You said it was mutual. He said it wasn't. I don't even want to get into that really, but when you make that kind of decision about moving forward as a leader, the fans, I'm just since we said the interview is happening I'm being inundated with questions, and emails and things. How could you let a guy like that go, even if everybody hated him? And Bill Belichick, we talked about earlier, great coach.
JOHNSON: Not all a universally-loved guy. Bill Parcells was a great coach, a guy despised sometimes by his own teammates or his own players. What matters besides winning?
YORK: Well obviously things off the field matter, but we are trying to win a Super Bowl. Everything that we do we're trying to win a Super Bowl. We -- we haven't been able to do that. And I think what we're trying to do is build a team that focuses on our core strengths, like any other company that you are going to talk to. You want to focus on your core strengths. And I think we got away from (inaudible) something that we weren't, just get back to the basics and get back to letting our players go out and make plays. And I think that's going to give us an opportunity to get back….
JOHNSON: Was Jim Harbaugh not doing that?
YORK: You look at our offense last year. It wasn't I think where it should have been. I think we have better talent than what our results showed. And again, I am not the expert in terms of calling x's and o's, and writing plays and doing things like that, but I know that our players are equipped to go play the game and compete for championships. And we need to make sure that we're all in this thing together, and moving forward and giving ourselves a chance to -- to ultimately host and win the Super Bowl this year.
WEBB: Coming back to the Super Bowl, speaking of the Super Bowl, what is it that you would like Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay area to do to help you make sure this is the best Super Bowl ever?
YORK: Well I mean obviously getting the 49ers there is going to be a great way to make this a great Super Bowl for the Bay area. But I think ultimately what you want is watching Mayor Lee work with Mayor Matthews, and Mayor Reed, and now Mayor Liccardo in San Jose, bringing everybody together and making sure that the Bay area puts on the best face. And we work together as a unit. When you work together as a unit I don't think there is a better place in the world than the Bay area.
JOHNSON: Well so that point….
YORK: So if we want it back we're going to get it back.
WEBB: And just to the point….
JOHNSON: Well like I said, I feel like sports -- I was a sports reporter for a long time, and I feel like sports is this is a metaphor, and that's why we all love it because it seems so clear, right? There's a score at the end of the day. When you get back in your car, and you drive up 280 and you come home from work, there might not have been a score. But that's why I love talking about sports as a metaphor for business. When you look at -- you're talking about the offense as a problem for the 49ers, but you hire a defensive coach. Do you -- when you -- do you look around Silicon Valley for -- to make that make sense, because the fans look at that and say, geez, if offense is a problem, why did you hire a defensive guy?
YORK: That's a good question, but I think the Coach Tomsula knows what we've been doing as the 49ers. He's seen this team transition from an average football team to a really good football team, trying to focus on what we have done well and making sure that you have somebody that knows the quarterback well that can run the offense, as Geep Chryst, building the right staff around him, making sure that we get back to running the football, make sure that we get back to doing things That Colin is good at. Let him use his athleticism.