The CEO of the San Francisco 49ers has been surrounded by some of the best mentors in professional sports. He considers himself fortunate for having those experiences, too.
Jed York discussed his influences and fondest memories of those leaders in a recent appearance on NFL Network’s NFL AM morning show.
In a sit-down interview with reporter Steve Wyche, York shared details of his upbringing which included his very first 49ers game, a San Francisco victory over the Cleveland Browns in 1984.
York, who was 3-years-old at the time, drove from his home in Youngstown, Ohio, to watch the 49ers soundly defeat the Browns on the road. San Francisco’s CEO also remembers sitting on the lap of Jennifer Montana, wife of 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana.
“It was kind of all downhill after that,” York said jokingly.
To the contrary, it hasn't truly been that way for York.
The 49ers CEO has helped the team tremendously on and off the field with the hiring of general manager Trent Baalke, head coach Jim Harbaugh, and by being instrumental in the creation of the new Santa Clara Stadium, the future home of the 49ers.
In York’s mind, all of those successful moments stem from his experiences as a young boy being around the 49ers facility and learning from his grandfather Edward DeBartolo Sr., as well as his uncle, Eddie Debartolo Jr., the owner during the franchise’s five Super Bowl victories.
York told Wyche he was fortunate to be “around some of the greatest people in professional sports as a kid.”
The 49ers CEO spent much of his childhood around the franchise, learning from the team’s front office, coaches and players. York explained to Wyche the reason he valued his relationship with his grandfather, who bought the 49ers in 1977.
“The person I look up to more than anybody was my grandfather,” York said. “His motto was always ‘guts and drive.’”
Those words have been a mainstay for the 49ers organization ever since.
The words allowed DeBartolo Jr. to reach out and hire legendary Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh and later helped York bring in Baalke and Harbaugh into prominent roles with the club.
The 49ers have won back-to-back NFC West division titles with the team’s current GM/Coach structure and made it as far as Super Bowl XLVII in 2012. San Francisco was defeated in the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl, but York has moved on from the outcome and has remained focused on adding to the team’s trophy case.
“Ultimately we just came up short,” he said of the loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Since the start of the 2013 free agency period, San Francisco has bolstered its roster with key signings (
York’s also eager to see the development of third-year quarterback
“He’s the starter,” York said of the former second-round pick in 2011. “He’s taking charge. The coaches are now putting all of their emphasis into Colin. I hope he continues to grow and improve.”
Kaepernick’s third season in the NFL will also be the last year the 49ers play at historic Candlestick Park. San Francisco will open the 2014 season at the new Santa Clara Stadium.
“It’s bittersweet,” York detailed. “This will be our last year at Candlestick and we want to celebrate the great history, the great tradition and all the great moments that have happened there.”
The team plans to honor the stadium’s greatest 49ers moments in 2013 and York is looking forward to the season-long celebration.
“We’ve got 10 more games at Candlestick and hopefully a couple more in the playoffs,” the 49ers CEO said. “Let’s celebrate it and remember all the great things that have happened there.”