Yearly Archive: 2017

The relocation of the Chargers to Los Angeles

The San Diego Chargers have announced that they will relocate to Los Angeles, after failing to come to an agreement with the city of San Diego on either a new stadium or upgrades to their existing stadium, which is one of the oldest in the NFL.
It is assumed that the Chargers will be tenants with the LA Rams at their new stadium in Inglewood CA which is scheduled to open in time for the 2019 season.
In the meantime, it seems that the Chargers intend to play at Stubhub Stadium in 2017 and 2018. This is a very small stadium by NFL standards, with a capacity of only about 30,000.
The move to a smaller stadium in the short term is, however, likely to have only a limited imoact on the overall team revenues. This is because almost 50% of an NFL team’s revenues is from their pro-rated share of the overall NFL television rights revenues. That is a lot of money each year, and it keeps going up. For 2015, the Green Bay Packers, who are the only NFL team to publish annual accounts, because they are owned by the public, reported TV revenues of $222.6m – 54% of their total revenues in what is a small local market compared to many other teams. The national TV revenue number is rumoured to be rising to over $240m in 2017.
The Chargers are in the middle of the pack on total spending on players, as reported here. They are going to have reduced home game revenues, but they will still share away game revenues from full-sized stadium. To put it in math terms, if their seat and other spending revenues from Stubhub are 50% of the revenues from San Diego, that will still equate to only a 25% drop in game-day revenues, since half of their games are road games. Since about 50% of their revenues come from TV income, the overall impact on revnues will be (at most) 12.5% for the next 2 seasons, and if TV revenues keep on rising, that number may be a lot less.
The Chargers are thus accepting a modest short-term reduction in revenues for the chance to earn more money from premium seating and access to the LA market from 2019. They do have the option of selling PSLs and season tickets, so they could extract a lot of one-time revenues starting in 2018. (This article, interestingly, explains that the PSL opportunities in San Diego were judged to be very limited, and PSL sales in other sports markets have not exactly been big sources of revenue recently, so the 49ers may be an anomaly.), However, the 49ers revenue from PSLs has apparently failed to meet forecasts, in part because the recent performance of the team in Levis Stadium has been poor which has led to a slump in the sales of both PSLs and season tickets. The deal between the 49ers and the Stadium Authority is structured such that failure of the PSL sales to meet forecasts could convert Levis Stadium into a financial loser for the city of Santa Clara.
It is not clear to me what the Chargers will be able to do for other sources of revenue once they arrive in Inglewood as tenants instead of stadium owners or sole occupiers. Many other NFL teams have naming rights deals for their stadiums, which bring in a lot of extra money annually. Since Rams owner Stan Kroenke will own the Inglewood stadium, with the Chargers as tenants, if he does have a naming rights deal for the stadium, it seems unlikely that the Chargers will benefit from it. However, given that the existing naming rights deal with Qualcomm in San Diego was only worth just over $1m per year, you can make the argument that the Chargers have little to lose financially by not having a naming rights deal in future.
I hope that the tenancy deal that the Chargers have with the Rams does not vary the costs dependent on the final cost of the new stadium. Stadium projects are notorious for blowing past initial cost and timeframe estimates.
As to whether the LA area can support 2 NFL teams; only time and on-field performance will determine that. However, the relocations of the Rams and Chargers (and the probable move of the Oakland Raiders) are occurring because cities are increasingly unwilling to provide large sums of public money to build new stadiums for professional sports franchises. If the NFL growth stops or reverses, these moves may be seen as the high water mark for NFL ambitions.
UPDATE 1This article does a good job of summarizing the teeth-grinding self-serving duplicity that NFL owners engage in as they seek to corral ever more public money for their stadiums and related amenities.
UPDATE 2This article explains some of the twisted dynamics behind the final decision by the Chargers to move to LA.. This article explains how the long-standing absence of an NFL team in the LA basin, plus old animosities, has been a major contributor to the current mess. The maximum spin-cycle letter from Roger Goodell looks even more like a zero-credibility pile of BS after you read the article.
UPDATE 3This comment from FieldOfSchemes reminds us of why and how the Chargers ended up in San Diego in the first place


The dynamics of GM and Head Coach and personnel control in hiring

Ever since Bill Parcells’ famous quote about his desire to control the roster of any NFL team for which he was the head coach, it has been customary for many NFL head coaching candidates to seek control over the player roster of their teams.
The track record of coaches at controlling and managing rosters is at best a mixed one. For some coaches, it is yet another distraction from the high-intensity business of coaching.
Ownership in NFL franchises has become very adept at window-dressing when it comes to who controls roster decisions. This is partly because, ultimately, the person with the check book controls the roster, and that is the owner or the ownership group. No matter how much many franchises attempt to portray their GM and coach as being in total control of the roster, it is an inescapable reality that sometimes owners fall in love with players who are in the NFL draft or free agent pool, and sometimes insist that they be selected or recruited, or even played when they are not ready or a good fit for the team. That seldom gives good results, since the owner is basically disenfranchising their own in-house leadership. However, it happens.
There are also numerous franchises where the head coach is really in control of the roster, and the GM effectively works for the head coach. However, you could not guess this if you looked at the org chart. A good example is the New England Patriots, who do not have a GM, and where Nick Caserio, the Director of Player Personnel, works for Bill Belichick. Belichick has control of the roster, and he may be one of the few coaches in the NFL who does enjoy total control.
The historical rule of thumb has been that the coach works for the GM, so if a franchise fires its head coach and GM (which often happens, as the owners clean house), the normal expectation that the GM is hired before the head coach. If it happens the other way round, the risk is that the GM finds himself with a head coach that he did not select, and ultimately cannot form a constructive working relationship with.
The 49ers are now looking for both a GM and head coach, having fired their previous GM and head coach at the end of the season. They have apparently struck out once already on the GM front, with Nick Caserio declining to interview for the GM position. I am expecting that the 49ers will struggle to fill both open positions, given the bizarre public comments of Jed York, which, frankly, made him look like a petulant child. They appear to have interviewed GM candidates already, and somebody will ultimately take the job. However, whether that person has the skills and freedom to succeed is an open question.


The astonishingly narrow view in the NFL on coach hiring

We are now into the mad annual scramble where all of the NFL teams that fired their head coach and/or General Manager are trying to hire replacements.
It’s a short compressed hiring cycle, because the NFL Draft takes place in April, and teams want their entire coaching and scouting staffs to be in place ASAP so that they can go evaluate all draft candidates and try to decide who to pick in that annual lottery. There is also free agency which begins in the second week of March at the start of the new league year.
6 teams fired one or both of their head coach or GM. There are weird rumours that the Houston Texans may end up looking for a head coach soon due to friction between Bill O’Brien and team leadership, but those are definitely stretch rumours, given that the Texans are still in the playoffs.
There is a long-standing rumor that the LA Rams want to trade for a head coach from another team (names like Sean Payton or Sean Payton keep being mentioned). Needless to say, in true military and political fashion, all of the parties potentially involved are denying this is a possibility (which leads many cynics to conclude that it will indeed happen).
The list of known candidates for the teams is generally agreed, and it is a depressing list, not because of the candidates themselves, all worthy people, but because it shows (a) the lack of imagination in NFL hiring practices, and (b) the sameness of NFL franchises when it comes to hiring.
The list of candidates for NFL teams always consists of most or all of the following:

1. The interim head coach (if the previous head coach was fired during the season. This may or may not be a serious interview)
2. One or two non-serious minority guys (to allow the team to comply with the Rooney Rule)
3. Hot Co-ordinators
4. Any Hot College Coach presumed to be interested or possibly persuabable to come to the NFL
4. Former NFL head coaches who have re-established themselves as co-ordinators
5. Former NFL head coaches out of the game (if they can interest them)
6. Other position group coaches who may be Hot (usually temporarily based on this year’s results)

Recently fired head coaches will either sit on their buyout money for a season or join a new head coach on his staff. They rarely get a shot at another head coaching interview (Chip Kelly last year was an exception, but see what just happened to him?)

The result of this reasoning loop is that, leaving aside the interim coaches (who mostly do not get the job), the list is a fairly short one. It currently seems to consist of the following:

Hot Co-Ordinators: Kyle Shanahan (very hot), Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia (I wonder which team they work for?), Harold Goodwin, Frank Reich, Anthony Lynn
Minority Guys: Teryl Austin, Teryl Austin, some guy named Austin
Hot College Coaches: NONE (some guy named Nick Saban continues to insist he is not interested)
Former Head Coaches: Mike Smith
Ex Head Coaches: NONE (they are on TV for a reason – it’s a lot more fun than running an NFL team)
Other Position coaches: Tom Cable (also former head coach)

The Rooney Rule is, sadly, being used as a fig-leaf by many teams to obscure the reality that, mostly owned by crusty old white guys, they tend to want a white guy in charge of the players. Teryl Austin has publicly declined at least one interview with a team in the past once he determined that he was not a serious candidate, and the team was possibly simply trying to comply with the Rooney Rule.
Teams always try to hire a Hot Co-ordinator first. They are drawn to them like moths to a flame. When the Dallas Cowboys began winning Superbowls in the early 1990’s, his offensive and defensive co-ordinators (Norv Turner and Dave Wannstedt) were snapped up in short order to become head coaches. Neither man has proved to be a consistently good head coach. Turner remains a respected offensive co-ordinator; Wannstedt is essentially out of football after bouncing all over the NFL and college.
Many other co-ordinators were promoted to head coach, and discovered quickly that it was a job that they either could not do well or did not want to do. Most of them were fired and went back to being good (and in some cases great) co-ordinators. The Dallas Cowboys currently have Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli as their offensive and defensive co-ordinators respectively. Both men were head coaches without much success, but are clearly back in the right job. Jim Schwartz was a failure as a head coach first time round, but remains an excellent defensive co-ordinator.
The role of head coach is a multi-faceted one, and coaching is only part of it. Co-ordinators promoted to head coach tend by nature to focus on the side of the ball that they came from, which leads to a number of head coaches who were offensive co-ordinators continuing to call plays during games. This tends to disenfranchise the team’s offensive co-ordinator, and de-focusses the coach. Ditto defensive minded coaches who try to run the defense in games. That usually results in issues with the offense not being addressed (Todd Bowles). There are too many game-day distractions and this often shows up in other detail areas such as clock management, where teams routinely screw up basics because nobody is paying attention on a continual basis during games.
HIring teams and GMs tend to place way too much emphasis on co-ordinators from successfully (especially Superbowl-winning) teams.
The “hire the Hot Co-Ordinator” approach has therefore resulted in significant disappointments over the years, particularly as teams hired co-ordinators away from the New England Patriots, only to discover that they did not function at all well outside of the unique environment of excellence that Bill Belichick created and maintains in that franchise. The two enduring co-ordinators of the 2000s Patriots dynasty (Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis) were hired away to become NFL and college head coaches respectively. Neither man succeeded in their new jobs, they both looked over-matched and out of their depth. Crennel is back doing what he does best as a co-ordinator in the NFL, Weis is living on his golden parachutes from 2 college teams. Eric Mangini had two spells as a head coach without success, was caught up in the Spygate scandal, and is now in limbo. Josh McDaniel, hired by the Denver Broncos in 2010, began with an unbeaten run in the 2010 season and looked like a genius coaching hire for a season, before the team lapsed into mediocrity and he was fired, going back to New England. The jury is out on Bill O’Brien in Houston.
College head coaches are a hit-or-miss proposition, mostly miss. Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and Chip Kelly were all college head coaches who spent time in the NFL and found that some of the natural advantages that they enjoyed in college such as superior recruiting, stacked schedules, and total roster and team control either did not exist in the NFL, or were completely different in nature.
Occasionally teams succeed by going outside the box. The Baltimore Ravens raised eyebrows when they hired John Harbaugh, who was a special teams coach, not a co-ordinator, but they have won a Superbowl under his tenure. However, that remains an isolated exception. Most teams think that the Hot Co-Ordinator is the safe and/or exciting and sexy option.
In the meantime, Jeff Garcia has still not been interviewed by the 49ers. They might just need to interview him eventually, since their GM and head coach positions are regarded as the least attractive in the league right now. The 49ers are likely to be short of suitors when the recruitment cycle music stops.


The 350 pound gorilla in the capitalist living room – employment

The rise of nativism and racism in the Western world is rather obvious, now that two elections (the EU Referendum in the UK and the Presidential and Legislative branch elections in the USA) have been won by parties and forces representing regressive, nativistic thinking.
The bigger question, which many people are having trouble with, is why those forces have risen rapidly to have the impact that they have on electoral outcomes.
Inequality in societies probably plays a part. However, that is not a root cause, it is a symptom.
My view (for what it is worth) is that the underlying root cause is that, as most Western countries move to a post-industrial societal model, there simply is not enough employment to absorb all of the people who want and need paid employment. There aren’t enough jobs to go around. This problem has existed for 40+ years in many countries. Wherever you look in Europe and North America, you can see high structural levels of unemployment in many regions and countries. The causes are (1) automation of repetitive tasks, and (2) the migration of manufacturing and assembly operations to other countries with lower employment costs.
A big clue that the problem has existed for decades is that governments have been modifying the basis for counting numbers of unemployed people for decades to reduce the headline (total) number. I watched in the UK as this was done persistently by governments to keep the headline number below the politically embarrassing number of 1 million. As a result, most government official statistics on unemployment exclude long-term unemployed people who may still be looking for work, and also fail to count under-employment. So the US number of around 5% unemployment is not accurate, and has been inaccurate for decades. This tells me that this is a long-term structural issue, and that governments either do not want to address it, or do not know how to address it within the confines of current government policy and their own governing ideology.
Part of what is known as “the American Dream” is the idea that a new generation will enjoy greater prosperity than the previous generations. This manifests itself in expectations among people that they will enjoy a better standard of living than their ancestors. Until recently that was true. Now, with recessions not leading to “bounce” recoveries, and the decline of rural employment, many people in the USA have discovered that this is no longer true. Not surprisingly, they have become angry and frustrated, and they used their electoral power to send a clear and radical signal to the world, by electing a reality-show host and carnival barker to the Presidency.
One of Donald Trump’s populist promises during his campaign was that he was going to bring jobs back to the USA. He hinted that he would penalize corporations for offshoring employment, and he specifically promised to “bring back coal” to Appalachia. This was pure populist pandering in action. He was telling demoralized and desperate people what they wanted to hear.
None of Donald Trump’s expansive promises originated in any place close to current reality.
The reality is that if we want to return offshored work to the USA, we have to be prepared to pay more for just about all manufactured products in order to achieve this. The manufacturing went overseas for cost reasons. As for coal and gas, well, I wrote about that previously. The only way that the coal mines will re-open in Appalachia is via the application of huge government subsidies. Even then, the amount of employment will be limited. Automation has reduced employment demands in extractive industries dramatically. That is why the dream of re-opening timber mills in the Pacific North West is also doomed to give disappointing results. The jobs didn’t disappear because of an end to logging. They disappeared because of automation, and will not return unless automation is banned, people are subsidized to work, or a combination of both. In the meantime, unemployment in the Northern counties of California and the Southern counties of Oregon continues to be higher than the national average. Needless to say, the loss of mass employment in many Pacific Northwest counties has led to widespread discontent with central government, and pressure for secession exists, on the grounds that government from state and federal level has done nothing except make their lives worse.
The mass market political parties in the USA have no logical or coherent answer to this issue, because they are trapped in a hole of contradiction, between their public ideological position that claims that all solutions belong to the free market, and the reality that they have been subsidizing industries for decades. For example, governments already pump billions of dollars into agriculture via subsidies. State and local governments also subsidize businesses via tax abatements and other forms of tax concessions. However, political parties routinely rationalize away these contradictions.
The bottom line is that if governments want to address structural lack of employment opportunities, they have to consider one or a combination of two strategies:

1. (if you accept that people have to work) Subsidize employment
2. (a different approach) Give all people a Basic Income that will allow them to at least live above the poverty line

When a previous strategy no longer works, you need a new one, or you are condemned to slow decline. Political parties can continue to throw money at structural employment issues on an industry by industry or a regional basis, dressing it up as “relief”, “competitive investment” or any number of BS doublespeak phrases. That probably will not work in the medium term as de-industrialization and automation continue to advance. The cracks between rhetoric and reality will widen, and the contradictions will widen to the point that the political party credibility drops even lower. Or they can accept the new notion that not everybody can, must and should work.
Libertarians have been wrestling with this issue for a while, and in the Libertarian movement the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been a topic of discussion for a long time. It is a radical and different option to address a problem that is not going away. It was tried by Canada in the 1970s, so it is not totally unproven.
The Western world is at a crossroads with respect to matching expectations to reality for its electors. If political parties continue to try and paper over the cracks, we will have more wild and wacky election results, more instability, and possible world conflict. It really is that serious.
The time for visionary ideas and solutions is now.


The Fallacy of information omission

Folks, some of you are posting links to stories on websites that assert that 95 million Americans over the age of 16 are not in the labor force i.e. they are not working. This is being used as information with which to claim that the US unemployment rate is far higher than the claimed figure.
Now, like most people who didn’t come down from the hillside with the last rainstorm, I know that unemployment numbers are not aligned with practical reality. I have written about this in the past.
However, the “95 million not working” claim is an example of a fallacious assertion, in that it (deliberately in my opinion on many websites) omits crucial information and analysis. A less polite summary would be that it is BS.
Politico analyzed the claimed number a few years ago when it was around 90 million. Their analysis shows how the real number of people who should be working but are not is a whole lot less than 95 million.
I would also note that the websites trumpeting this finding fall into two groups:
1. Headline clickbait sites run by popular media outlets (including the tabloid newspapers)
2. Fringe authoritarian sites specializing in bullshit stories about the Democratic party, including all manner of conspiracy theories and general all-purpose nonsense (World Net Daily being a good example)
There are no serious, analytical web sites pushing this story, for the simple reason that once you strip away the hyperbole, there aren’t 95 million people sitting on their hands doing nothing. That headline number, quite simply, does not pass any sense check or smell test. If there really were 95 million employable people in the USA unable to find work, we would have seen riots in the streets and towns a long long time ago.
If you fasten on to big numbers just because they match your preconceptions, and don’t bother to ask “how is that number comprised”, you are guilty of engaging in confirmation bias, and quite frankly, you deserve to be duped. Some of you need to wake up and engage your critical thinking skills.


Mutual understanding and agency

All through the recent electoral cycle, I grew wearily used to reading breathless exposes from reporters sent out from the coasts (where most of the major media outlets are headquartered) to The Heartland with the instruction “find out why all of those people are angry and why they like Donald Trump”.
The reporters would seemingly pick towns off a map, go visit them, talk to a cross-section of townspeople, dutifully record their thoughts, opinions and rants, and write the required article, usually beginning with a lede like “In Upper Squitville, they’re mad as hell…and they love Donald Trump” or similar.
This sort of formulaic cookie-cutter reporting is easy to satirise. So somebody did, to hilarious effect.
To get any sort of real insight, you need to dig a lot deeper. For example, go read JD Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy”, the story of his upbringing in Appalachia and Ohio, in a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in an economic environment decidedly unfriendly to lesser-educated people and families in depressed areas.
Vance has also been doing the rounds of the radio and media interview circuit, partly to promote the book, but also partly to explain the reasons why Donald Trump is so popular with rural voters, although he is at pains to point out that Trump is not the answer to their prayers.
Patrick Thornton pointed out that there is a mutual obligation on both sides to understand each other. Like Vance, he escaped from a rural start to his life to move into IT in New York. Also like Vance, he became exasperated with the idea that it is entirely up to the coastal folks to understand and indulge the heartland folks, and that the heartland people are somehow helpless. So he wrote about it.
Now Patrick is back on Twitter, pointing out that heartland people have agency, and that the idea that everybody else needs to accomodate them is not realistic:

The tweet storm that he wrote basically expands on JD Vance’s point that people in these areas do have agency and choices. One of the choices is to fight to improve. Another choice is to wait for some savior (in the case of many people, they imagine that Donald Trump is their savior).
UPDATERude Pundit has a take similar to Patrick Thornton’s, but rather more obnoxiously expressed. Although it is still a lot milder in tone than the babblings of the self-identified Deplorables on Twitter.


A reminder about the word “lie”

Last year, I wrote this posting about the use of the word “lie” and how it relates to the political process.
I am adding some comments based on what is happening in the USA about now.
It is quite clear to me, based on a careful reading of his interviews, pronouncements, speeches, and tweets, that Donald Trump, a significant percentage of the time, talks bullshit. Not just standard-grade bullshit. Fine, fragrant, weapons-grade bullshit.
Many of his comments consist of assertions and statements that are clearly false, and can easily be shown to be false with only a minimal amount of analysis.
A good recent example is the claim that the singer Jackie Evancho saw her album sales “skyrocket” after she agreed to sing at Donald Trump’s Inauguration. However, as a careful reading of this article makes clear, there is next to no factual basis for this claim, based on an analysis of sales of her most recent album. This analysis by Billboard points out that the sales bump of her most recent album can easily be explained by the normal Christmas sales spike, and none of her previous albums have re-entered the charts, which is what one would expect if an artist gets a general sales boost.
Many people who dislike or despise Trump are now in the habit of labelling every utterance he makes as a lie.
It is far from clear that Donald Trump is lying. My own opinion is that, in keeping with a man whose entire business career and public persona to date has been based on self-aggrandisement and hype, he has long ago mastered the art of talking bullshit. During the election cycle, his opinions on the same issue would change, seemingly often daily. He would pick up and drop issues at random. Unlike most campaigning politicians, who usually have a tightly scripted collection of static talking points (the “stump speech”) that they give at most of their events, Donald Trump could, and often did, talk about almost anything at his events. This, of course, assured continual media attention (if you are a media organization, a Donald Trump event would be infinitely more likely to generate new soundbites than a Hillary Clinton event).
But does Donald Trump actually say things that he knows are untrue? My take is…probably. However, I strongly believe that a lot of the time he is, to use an old phrase, simply Making Shit Up. He says what he thinks will get him attention at any point in time, preferably something that will confuse and distract opponents, often without even thinking about it in advance. He also likes to use Twitter, since Twitter allows him to talk in short soundbites without having to engage with any questioners or interlocutors. For him, Twitter is the perfect communication channel. It is easy to use, simple, and scrutiny-free.
These kinds of scattergun, confusion-inducing communication tactics rely more on bullshit than outright lies. This passage from Harry Frankfurt’s book “On bullshit” summarizes the difference:

Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. It is designed to insert a particular falsehood at a specific point in a set or system of beliefs, in order to avoid the consequences of having that point
occupied by the truth. This requires a degree of craftsmanship, in which the teller
of the lie submits to objective constraints imposed by what he takes to be the
truth. The liar is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent a lie
at all, he must think he knows what is true. And in order to invent an effective lie,
he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. On the other hand,
a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His
focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a
certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths
surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to fake the context as well,
so far as need requires. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must
submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of
the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less
deliberative than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and
independent, with mare spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and
imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar
notion of the “bullshit artist”.

Lying requires too much sustained attention to detail for a person like Donald Trump. Once you start lying, you have to remember exactly what lies you told in the past in order to avoid tripping over your own past falsehoods. I doubt that Donald Trump has the patience or focus for that, and, as a narcissist habitually surrounded by sycophants who rarely contradict him, he probably never had to face the level of scrutiny that he will now start to experience.
So…this is a long way of saying that I believe that most of what Donald Trump talks in public is BS and tosh. However, I have yet to see evidence of sustained lying. I simply think that is beyond him at present.


The 49ers trainwreck – and a volunteer

So it comes to this. The son of the titular owner of the 49ers, asked the obvious question at a press conference, responds by essentially sticking out his tongue at the media and the fan base.
The more I read about Jed York, the more I become convinced that he is the second coming of Tony George.
Yes, that Tony George. The man who, suffused with resentment and hubris after (as he saw it) being frozen out of decision-making in American open-wheel racing, took his ball and stick away, starting the Indy Racing League in 1995, a move that ultimately crippled top-flight US open-wheel racing for over 20 years. The sport has still not recovered to this day. Many years ago, somebody nicknamed Tony George “the idiot grandson”. The nickname stuck. Eventually in 2010, George’s own family tired of his spending family money on his crusades, and took away his stick and ball, but not after immense damage had been done.
The arc of the decision-making of the 49ers is looking more and more like the days of the CART_IRL battle. After hiring Jim Harbaugh and watching him coach the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and (almost) a second one, the ownership decided that they could not tolerate Harbaugh’s behavior, and parted company with him. Having decided that they could not tolerate a strong-willed coach, they then promoted Jim Tomsula from within to be the head coach. Tomsula had a long and distinguished coaching record with the 49ers, but he had no previous team leadership experience, and the feeling was that the 49ers ownership had hired him because he would be compliant and non-confrontational. They were essentially following a classic model where a respected but confrontational and demanding leader is replaced by a more collegial leader.
What is interesting is that this is not even the first time that the 49ers parted company with a successful head coach. Back in 2003, the 49ers, with John York leading the ownership, fired Steve Mariucci after a season where the team had made it to the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the SuperBowl. The reasons for the firing were never revealed publicly.
Jim Tomsula proceeded to prove that he was in over his head in the 2015 season, including rambling press conferences where he sometimes seemed confused. The 49ers finished 5-11 and the ownership fired Tomsula, paying him $14m to sit at home and tend to his garden, while they then hired Chip Kelly, who had been fired by the Eagles before the end of the season, his grand experiment of bringing college tactics to an NFL team seemingly at an end.
At the same time, players voted with their feet, leaving in free agency or retiring. That should have been an indication that things were about to get much worse. In the NFL, poorly managed teams always have trouble attracting and keeping free agents, who have been around the game long enough to sniff out dysfunction, and, with limited playing lives, they want no part of it.
Kelly, beset by the lack of good players, proved unable to coax any better performance out of the team, who finished 2-14. Now he has been fired, along with General Manager Trent Baalke.
The 49ers have, in the usual way, cleaned house.
That was the easy part. The much more difficult part is beginning. How do you attract a high quality General Manager and coach to a franchise where the ownership leader (Jed York) behaves like he is out of his depth? York appears to have no established leader in the organization with a solid football background at present. Unless he is able to tap into advice from elsewhere, it is difficult to see how he is going to be able to make insightful and informed decisions about who to interview and who to hire.
The 49ers situation has been described in multiple media outlets as the least desirable coaching/GM vacancy in the NFL, so it is not likely that any of the top-line names are going to be interested.
One man has already volunteered his services. Former player Jeff Garcia.
This might superficially be a daft idea, but the 49ers could do a lot worse than to hire a former player who, rejected by the NFL because he was perceived to be under-sized, went to the CFL and built a career there before returning to become the starting quarterback of the 49ers for a number of seasons. Garcia was a fiery personality on and off the field in his playing days, but one thing he could not be accused of was lack of effort and intensity.
The 49ers may have to get creative and hire a non-obvious candidate. Maybe they should interview Jeff Garcia…

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