Jed York: a millennial that lost control of the 49ers

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San Francisco 49ers fan, fire Jed York sign
January 3, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers fan holds a sign for owner Jed York during the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Levi's Stadium. The 49ers defeated the Rams 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2016 season, we predicted that the San Francisco 49ers would finish 3-13, but even the most cynical prognosticators underestimated this teams ineptitude. The scene at Levi’s during Sunday’s collapse against the New York Jets demonstrated how this organization is dysfunctional to the core and it all can be traced back to Jed York.

millennial

noun mil·len·ni·al

Definition of millennial

  1. :  a person born in the 1980s or 1990s —usually plural

By virtue of his birthdate in the early 80’s, Jed York classifies as a millennial and while it may be that many inaccurately generalize about this group, research has shown that being a millennial can be associated with a lot of positive traits and career fits; and one can’t help wonder if some of the classic traits that are often associated with millennials may have contributed to Jed’s undoing as CEO of the 49ers.

According to some studies of the workplace, millennials prefer a flat corporate structure and a 2010 study in the Journal of Business and Psychology found that millennials “expect close relationships and frequent feedback from supervisors,” suggesting that a millennial might want to feel connected to and free to engage with anyone in the workplace and exquisitely sensitive to being talked down to.

This may be why Jim Harbaugh rubbed Jed the wrong way, cause let’s face it, the mishandling and firing of Harbaugh was the beginning of the end for Jed and the 49ers ability to field a competitive team. With his khakis and grinder mentality, Harbaugh is about as old school as they come these days and so it may not be a surprise to hear rumors of how Jim would emasculate Jed when Jed would sheepishly try and sit in on team meetings.

Is Harbaugh an abrasive personality? Many have affirmed this but he is a proven winner and in the league where they play for pay is there any single thing more important to the team and organization than winning? Old school football players might not think so, but maybe Jed’s millennial traits made him need to feel purposeful in the organization, in control, not condescended upon.


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And since millennials are thought to have a strong sense of community and social justice, Jed York might not want to be perceived as the bad guy and instead used media leaks to disparage Harbaugh culminating in the farcical public gesture that Harbaugh’s leaving was a mutual parting of ways. His tweeting about the “unacceptable” performance of the 49ers after their home Thanksgiving loss to the Seahawks does nothing to dispel the label of Jed being a classic millennial owner as well. Since millennials are thought to consider a change of workplace scenery sooner than Gen X and Baby Boomers, it may be surprising that Jed stuck with Harbaugh for as long as he did.

Other studies of millennials in the workplace found that compared to Baby Boomers and Generation X, millennials were compelled to want meaningful work and a creative outlet, so it would make sense that Jed would want to do something that he could call his own, something to put his mark on the 49ers organization, even more so if one considers the hypothetical battering of his ego by Harbaugh.

Unfortunately, Jed channeled his creative energy into moving the 49ers from San Francisco to Santa Clara and building Levi’s stadium and there can be no underestimation of how this move and this terrible stadium have negatively impacted the fans and culture of the team.

10 minutes to kickoff. Check out that crowd!!!

A photo posted by Kathy Castro (@noelcastro) on

Perhaps Jed wants to shed the label of being overly sensitive, entitled or reactive, but he may be overcorrecting by dragging his feet on the current state of the organization and this could now be his undoing. At this point, even the most casual observer can realize that the 49ers roster is barren of talent and Trent Baalke has failed as a general manager. A wise GM who is not compelled by his own emotions would have fired Baalke yesterday, but it seems that Jed is now paralyzed by indecision.

And it’s Jed’s indecision on Baalke that is likely the last straw for his parents whose own mishandling of the team led to Jed’s promotion in the first place. Accordingto Jason LaConfora on KNBR 680 on Monday morning, he believes that after Baalke is the first to go that Jed would be next:

“Jed would be out. He wouldn’t be involved in football operations,” La Canfora said. “I mean you can get cute with titles. You can do whatever you think you have to do. But the premise would be, the top of the pyramid would be this person they bring in, to effectively be running the football operation.”

In all of this, I don’t think Jed York is a bad guy and I believe he did everything in his power to do what he thought was best for the team, and that was a major part of the problem.

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