5 New Year’s Resolutions the San Francisco 49ers Should Make for 2017
The San Francisco 49ers finally can put the disastrous 2016 season behind them and turn the page to 2017. So with another year on the calendar, Niner Noise presents five New Year’s resolutions the red and gold can make this year.
A new year is upon us, and the San Francisco 49ers can finally start making all the necessary preparations to make things better in 2017 than the ugly showing that was the 2016 season.
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We all love New Year’s resolutions and strive our best to keep them. And yet January wishes typically turn into March failures.
For the Niners, these failures have turned into a seemingly endless cacophony of personnel changes, media leaks, controversies and ineptitude from the top of the organization on down.
Oh, what a headache. No wonder fans have avoided Levi’s Stadium like it was a prison of sorts.
Still, a new year always ushers in hope. Maybe this is the year in which San Francisco turns things around, right?
We can only hope.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look at five New Year’s resolutions the Niners should make heading into 2017.
And hopefully they keep them.
No. 5: Hire a Vice President of Football Operations
Three ugly years of having CEO Jed York making the most critical of decisions in Santa Clara has been nothing short of a disaster.
And while it’s easy to point the finger at York, let’s be a little encouraging. Heck, even former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo made early mistakes. General manager Joe Thomas, anyone?
Here’s a simple resolution for York now — take a backseat, power-wise, and find someone to run the football-side of things from this point forward.
Football minds make football decisions. And there are plenty of talented, knowledgeable people out there capable of putting the right personnel in the right places.
Call it a Vice President of Football Operations or whatever cute title someone wants to use. But let that person be the key on-field and front-office decision maker the team so desperately needs right now.
No. 4: CEO Jed York Being More Visible to the Media and Public
Remember when the 49ers were still holding onto the Jim Harbaugh era, ended up losing to the Seattle Seahawks on Thanksgiving and it all ended with a critical tweet from CEO Jed York?
York was pretty vocal — and even critical — when things were going comparatively well. Now, well, it’s almost as if he doesn’t exist outside of the occasional photo or media clip of him walking by. Sure, there are the end-of-year press conferences he’ll give. But that’s it.
Especially if there’s no Vice President of Football Operations put into place next season, York needs to take a public stance.
Reap the benefits and praise when things go well. That’s fine. But York also needs to be ready to handle the grief and complaints when they don’t.
No. 3: Listen
Yes, Jed York. There are hundreds, likely thousands, of people out there who could probably run the organization better than you have.
It’s fine you won’t turn over the reins. Why would you?
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But the only bad advice is that which isn’t received. Or letting yourself being crowded with too much advice and not having the wherewithal to sort through all of it.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt to open up the ears and put together some sort of team to help in the search for a (likely) new general manager or person in charge of personnel in 2017.
KNBR 680’s John Lund spoke on this very subject last Thursday. He mentioned even getting former players and coaches tied to the 49ers — guys like Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Mike Shanahan, Brent Jones and others — to help with the decision. They still have a passion to see the 49ers “right the ship.”
Listen to what they have to say and don’t let ego get in the way.
It’s not hard.
No. 2: Don’t Promote from Within Just Because
One of the names thrown out to likely take over for current general manager Trent Baalke is assistant GM Tom Gamble.
It sounds like a safe, York-like thing to do — promote Gamble, an in-house name, and let Baalke bear the brunt of San Francisco’s recent struggles.
But the 49ers are known too well for sticking to this routine. They love to promote from within (Jim Tomsula, anyone) and would rather go this route instead of thoroughly exploring outside options and making the best decision not based on personal preference.
KNBR 680’s Kevin Jones alluded to this. While promoting Gamble might seem like the easiest move, is it little more than just a quick fix?
This isn’t to say Gamble wouldn’t be the right guy. Just don’t make him so by default.
No. 1: Find a Quarterback
Don’t get your hopes up for a Colin Kaepernick-49ers reunion in 2017. He’s likely on the way out. The same goes for Blaine Gabbert. Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis too.
That leaves exactly zero quarterbacks signed onto the Niners roster next year. Zero!
The most important position in the NFL deserves a lot more careful attention than just the average positional search. And whether it be through the NFL Draft or free agency, San Francisco can ill afford to take this search lightly.
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Ideally, the next franchise QB would be someone picked up in the draft and groomed into a more-than-just effective signal-caller. But that might mean a stop-gap option for the next year or so, which puts an emphasis on free agency or via a trade.
Selecting the right quarterback can set up a franchise for success for years. Investing in the wrong one can equally set a franchise back for years too.
But the Niners aren’t in a position where they can simply avoid the topic altogether. It needs attention.
And just as important, the 49ers need to stick to their New Year’s resolutions too.