SANTA CLARA — As his team prepares to take center stage in the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York stepped into the spotlight Friday.
York met with reporters at Levi’s Stadium ahead of the team’s trip to Miami to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.
York discussed the dynamic between Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, how he would handle an invitation to visit the White House and what he considers a defining moment for the franchise in its pursuit of its sixth Super Bowl title.
Below is a partial transcription from York’s Q&A. An updated version will be posted shortly.
On interviewing Kyle Shanahan during a head coaching search: “I think it became very, very clear within the first 10 minutes that we just saw how to build an organization in a very, very similar way because his father was here. He saw the culture that Bill instilled in the late 70s and early 80s.
On concerns about Shanahan: “You had those negative things, but he’s just honest and direct. It’s hard when you’re in my position to know when somebody is being honest or direct. He’s not really good at a poker face when he doesn’t want to answer a question. He’s pretty direct. That’s what I want from a coach.”
On making a six-year commitment to Shanahan and Lynch: “I think I’m still paying three coaches. It was like…if we’re going to pay a coach, we might as well pay the same one for six years. That was clear to me. It was two years of fixing what we needed to fix and knowing that this is year one of a four year deal. It was knowing that this is somebody I can work with and John is somebody I can work with to get through some of the tough stuff.”
On what the contracts for Shanahan and Lynch showed: “We needed to send a message to first our team and second our fans that these guys are here. Not that we knew we weren’t going to win games, but it was unlikely that day one that when those guys came in we were going to win the Super Bowl.”
On sustaining success: “I don’t want to put expectations on our guys, we need to focus on this week. But that’s always been my goal. I think with John And Kyle, we have the ability to hopefully keep competing, but there’s a lot of work to be done.”
On when York knew a Super Bowl run was possible: “When we were able to draft Nick, I thought that this was possible. Knowing the moves that they had made, even going back to Trent, we invested in our defensive line. That was something that was really, really important to Kyle that we have a Super Bowl-caliber defensive line.”“If you said that after we drafted Nick, I would have said, yeah, I think there’s a chance for it. But this is what we’ve always worked for.”
On the 49ers’ culture: “You go back to Steve Young when he talked to the team about John and Kyle about getting your back, they took that to heart and I think we’ve had that for three years. We’ve been fortunate to have our breaks go our way and I’m very fortunate that we have two guys that are excellent at their jobs and that when we do make mistakes, we can learn from them.”
On pursuit of a Super Bowl title: “We have one goal. We always have one goal. I think any time that you lower that expectation, you hurt yourself and you hurt your team. Lou Holtz would always talk about it, aiming for perfection and achieving greatness.”
On memories of the 2012 and 2013 49ers teams: “It’s so much worse to lose in the NFC Championship Game especially when you lose in a close fashion and you see the team that beat you win, you always think what if? It’s hard to lose a Super Bowl, but we played the game. You can have what ifs if you played the game.”
On staying focused in Miami: “There’s a long time to be able to party after February 2. We just have to stay focused and do our job and come out on the right end of it.”
On Reuben Foster: “It was hard. We could have justified not moving on from it. There are other people that have been in worse situations than what Reuben was in. But we knew where we had to be. You look at a defining moment for those guys and I think that’s defining moment for the culture.”
On a potential White House visit: “I respect the office of the president. I’m not going to get into politics. I hope that we have that decision to make, I hope we have that opportunity and I hope that we’re fortunate enough to get a call from the president.”
On Shanahan and Lynch working together: “He does so many little things, their strengths compliment one another. I think that’s important. Neither one of them is trying to elbow one another to get to the front of the line.”
On leading the 49ers: “My life is pretty simple. My philosophies are fairly simple. The Godfather, Bull Durahm and Major League pretty much make up my philosophy on my life. It goes back to Crash Davis talking to Nuke LaLoosh and he said you’re going to get lit up when you’re in the pros, but you have to remain cocky, you have to remain confident.”
On the good-cop, bad-cop dynamic between Shanahan and Lynch: “Kyle isn’t the bad cop. He’s the direct cop. That’s where people can make the mistake. This isn’t a pat yourself on the back league. It’s what do you need to do to get better? I think Kyle is very direct.”