Jed York on Harbaugh Leaving: "Winning with class is what matters"

By Jason Lisk

Jed York was involved in a lengthy, and very good, interview with Brian Murphy on KNBR, where he was repeatedly asked very pointed and specific questions and not allowed off the hook with some of his responses. Plenty of 49ers fans are dismayed over how the Harbaugh era ended, with a coach leaving because of differences with the front office after a successful run of three straight championship game appearances.

One of the highlights was this question:

"OK. I guess we’ll just have to leave this one hanging. He said one thing. You said another. And we’ll just have to figure out who we believe. (NBC’s) Cris Collinsworth said something in Week 1 that’s been nagging at me all year. He said the 49ers have a winning situation going on right now. We hear there’s discord as early as Week 1. It is now the 49ers’ job to keep this together because winning is hard in the NFL. And it is your job, Jed, to manage the dysfunction. Or to manage whatever the philosophical differences were because winning is the only thing that matters and you guys were winning. Why couldn’t you manage it. JY: Winning isn’t the only thing matters. Winning with class is what matters."

York then tries to clarify that he is talking about some of the off-the-field stuff, but when pressed, says that is not all on Harbaugh, but the whole organization. When asked why others aren’t gone, then, such as GM Trent Baalke with a mutual parting of the ways, York responded: “I think Trent and I are philosophically aligned on what we want to do with this team.”

It is a fascinating interview, with York trying to stand behind the mutual parting of ways that was the talking point on Sunday night (“Did you not see the press release that Jim and I put out together?”). Murphy also drills into the leaks constantly coming from the organization, and also asked York to clarify exactly what the philosophical differences were, which prompted this response.

"JY: Did you ask Jim what the philosophical differences were? Jim said he worked at the pleasure of the organization. You’ve already, somehow, dismissed that. So I can’t get anywhere with what you think about what Jim said. So I’m asking you: What were the philosophical differences? JY: Jim and I had the conversations. What were they? JY: Those are personal conversations. Those are not things we’re going to talk about. So was it football philosophy or personal philosophy? JY: Football philosophy. So does it get back to how the offense was performing? Is that what you’re talking about? JY: I told you I’m not to go into specific details. This isn’t about do I like somebody’s personality, do I not like somebody’s personality. I think I understand that there are high levels of tension when you get into sports. That’s absolutely par for the course. That’s what you deal with. What we’re trying to figure out is how do we continue to improve? How do we continue to get better? So you will continue to leave it behind closed doors. You don’t want to address those specifically? JY: I realize that that’s a lame answer. I realize that fans – they want every single detail. I understand that you want every single detail. But I respect the conversation that I had with Jim behind closed doors. I respect the fact that there are many people involved about those discussions. And not just those people, but their families. I am not going to throw those people under the bus. I am not going to throw Jim under the bus. I respect him too much. I respect what he did for the San Francisco 49ers too much to appease the crowd today to talk about something that he I said was going to remain behind closed doors."

It’s a fascinating and highly recommended interview, and ends with Murphy pressing York how exactly fans should hold him accountable, as he previously declared. It’s rare that an owner gets to interact–and catch heat directly while getting called out for non-answers and inconsistencies.