« Freakonomics Radio

350. How to Stop Being a Loser

2018-09-20 | 🔗

The San Francisco 49ers, one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world, also used to be one of the best. But they’ve been losing lately — a lot — and one of their players launched a controversy by taking a knee during the national anthem. So why is everyone there so optimistic? To find out, we speak with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and star players, including their new $137.5 million quarterback. (Ep. 2 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium, dot com. more code freak thanks. You break through the finishing tape with his mouth, it open three minutes. I want second covering the foreman at mile it until Doktor king will dedicate the protest on Tuesday. You protest when you feel I protest. Sport has a social impact that is way way bigger than its economic impact, I'm white and a site. barely breathe, Andras exhausted loser. You are blown up on twitter, you laudably grant. He cannot be afraid to failed
pretend for just a second that you own, a National Football League team. How awesome of that be, for starters, you'd be really rich, but also you'd have a piece of the most successful sports league in history, and that makes you part of the fabric of America. People arrange their schedules to watch NFL games. They are passionate about your product that they routinely dress up, like your employees, think about that. You ever seen anybody wearing Eu P S uniform who doesn't work for you PS. This passion translates into millions of eyeballs in billions of dollars. So, however, Richie started out now you're getting even richer. Can you imagine how great that would be or better than imagining, let's hear from someone who actually does own an NFL team? My name is Jed York and let's say this team happens to be
when the most successful invaluable franchises ever am the ceo, this impetus before United in them. keen, Eightys and Ninetys the San Francisco, forty Niners, one five Superbowl did York is thirty. Eight years old, the team has been in his family. For many years I rotated through every single department and my first gateways, really any equipment room like learning how to so named plates honour the jerseys in doing that stuff, you're, the CEO. I realize it's your title at your operational thing: are you the owner and owner? How does the ownership work so my family owns. Ninety plus per cent of the team and split between my siblings and my parents, and I my mother
controlling honour. The team, as York was moving up front, the equipment room to the ceos office? The teams glory days were receding. They did make it to another Superbowl six years ago, but they lost its hard to lose a super bowl and come back in and try to refocus. Indeed, it was hard to refocus the next few seasons ranged from mediocre, too Horrible York did what NFL owners typically do in these cases be fired. The coach again and again, some fans thought York should have been fired. They rendered a plain fluid over the stadium. With that very message, Yorks response was pretty sensible. I own this football team. You dont dismiss owner
Now imagine at the same time, all that was happening. This was also happening. San Francisco for an irish quarterback now during the national anthem calling happenings protest against racial injustice seems to be gaining traction in that led to this, would you loved one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch up the bill. right now, he's fire. Amidst all this, chaos on and off the field, Jed York hit the reset button hard. The forty nine restarted. The two thousand seventeen With a new coach, a new general manager and roster full of new players. They began the year with pretty high hopes. After all, they are the same from school. Forty Niners, those high hopes, turned out to be misplaced,
more just Morgiana victory over the forty. Nine is going all the way back to. Nineteen hundred and eighty in the new coach was miserable. when you lose a game, a lot and always happens when you lose to a ton happens. Usually threes like Armageddon. Try nine nine street losses to start what was supposed to be your turn around season. Then you ve got the president of the United States telling you to fire. Your son of a bitch employees- and you are very sport- is increasingly thought of. Violent and brutal for the modern world. You surely stolen own a football team, today on friggin mix radio, despite some headwinds, and if our football is still one of the most popular commodities in sports history. We all know what it's like to consume this commodity, but to take to produce it. We recently spend a couple days inside the forty. Nine is complex talking to everyone, ownership and senior management.
Head coach and general manager and, of course, the players, including the one huh thirty, seven million dollar quarterback Sargassum Jimmy rob, learn your listing, the free economics, radio and we learned a lot, for instance, how the sports industry is, unlike other industries You actually need some level of collusion just to make the product work right. We learned how winning is everything, but losing could be pretty great too. When we lose, we actually get gifted better draft text will hear how an end our team makes its money besides football, straight from monster truck into Taylor, Swift and you hear what football players do when they're not playing practicing poor with Wait. I know it's a lot. The hair, the bad when new stare at demigod for workers, except you
come on from stature and debonnair productions. This is great economic radio. The path cast it explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host. Indefinite. Last week we launched a new series, the hidden side of sports. We heard how sport has reflected throughout history, some of the most pressing concerns of our civilization politics and culture. Economics and human potential athletes were told like their legs would fall off if they ran fast enough to honour amidst the mile when we first started thinking about the sport series, we knew
We want to spend one episode going deep on a single team, preferably before their season began, not only to have more time to talk then, but that's also when everyone is still optimistic and tied for first place and uninjured as for which work we figured. We go straight to the top of the its pyramid, as the sports economist, Victor Matheson, described it. So the biggest league in the world in terms of revenue generated, is the NFL and they fell, generates something like fourteen fit thirteen billion dollars a year. We also thought, be fun to focus on a team that had a strange season the year before, like one of the strangest seasons ever season that ran from absolute despair to something approaching euphoria. This set of criteria brought us to the San Francisco forty Niners. What do you know great. So what is this big tunnel here? Where I get so? This is the
underbelly of the stadium in May. We visited the teams complex in Santa Clara California. They just begun their priests and practices which are technically o t Aser organised team activities, The place was incredibly busy concerning the season went begin for another few months. It was also incredibly upbeat. I understand why the entire buildings so enthusiastic about the two thousand eighteen season gift understand what they went through in two thousand seventy and understand that it helps to go back to two thousand and eleven the start of the era of coach Jim Harbour. By this point, the forty Niners had not been to the playoffs. In eight years, so Jim was at Stanford when we hire them. That again is forty hunters, owner and CEO Jed York and Jim.
The guy that is just a huge personality. It was a personality, harbour was not shy to show in public precisely as much crap, and I think, with Jim. You know he can certainly rubbed someday the wrong way, but he's not worried about. You know I'm gonna make sure everybody gets along. Like he's, he has one focus in mind and that's you know how to how do I win? Thirty three seventeen is the final stories harbour is in his schemes, approach, coach or about turn the team And immediately they had three excellent seasons, including that losing appearance in the Superbowl against a Baltimore Ravens team, whose coach was bizarrely harbours boy there was the horrible german John Harbaugh Ravens, not Niners to the best teams. The whig described me how much it hurts to lose the Superbowl? You know it's it's weird, because we ve lost and ass. She championship games before and it's weird led more easy, too
lose the shepherd boy you because you can say you know we didn't have our best game. We didn't do this so there's! No! If sands answers know what s not every in the forty Niners building, is a sanguine as owner Jedi, losing the survival of our man ass. It was less than the worst day. My life thanks are bringing them. That's Jos, daily, left tackle for the same Cisco foreigners. I've been on the team for the suddenly my twelve season coming up. only play here in San Francisco and your easily the longest tenured veteran here alibis, Anja Airbus. Looking, yes look and yet you knows I have to say it will. He has raised still, the right had been brought him a couple times state has long been one of the best left tackles in the league is primary. Job is to protect the quarterback on passing place. means in addition to being the longest tenured forty niner Stanley Also one of the largest six foot, six, I'm about to her
If I have to admit any fine he's also known, as being one of the goopiest full rights hook. What's hotter, No past two years if no worry ease for the rest of Europe day. Ease steely, also hosts no budget WEBS series called the joke. Joe filmed in the forty. Nine is locker room and our first gases, my eighth favorite player on the football team. You gonna Watson, everybody go. It pays to stay loose if you're NFL player. It is a fairly ruthless business that fourteen honours team that went to the Superbowl six years ago. Stanley is one of just two players still,
the team at fifty three, that's how much turn over there can be on and NFL roster specimen. A team has a bad stretch and the forty Niners had a really bad stretch. The season after the Superbowl loss. They one just eight games against eight losses. Coach, Jim Harbour, whose idiosyncrasies were tolerable during the winning seasons, had worn out his welcome. We just couldn't get a place where no either side was was, was willing to continue to move forward on to a new coach and a new season with even worse result
five wins eleven losses. Then another new coach for the next season, with an even worse outcome to wins. Fourteen losses that coach was also fired, along with the general manager who makes personnel decisions. This left Jed York as the primary target of the growing ill will here, is at a press conference right after the disastrous two thousand sixteen season did you dismissed your general manager and coach because it didn't reach certain up performance standards, That's part of it. Ok, let's stick to that part. Why shouldn't you be dismissed or reassign for the same reasons again like nothing, I mean to say, is gonna, be say something and that's when York said this, I own this football team, you dont dismiss owners
no one's happy when and then a felt team is losing players, the fans, even as you heard, the journalists, but paradoxically this one constituency that has reason to be somewhat less unhappy who's that the ownership here, something important to know about the National Football League and the other big american sports leagues. Every team in every league of course wants to win, but they don't have to win to be financially successful. Consider the NFL the league is essentially a coalition of the thirty two teams. The commissioner serves at the owners behest and promotes their interests. It is essentially a cartel with membership by imitation only unlike the big soccer leagues around the world, there is no promotion into or resignation out of american sports leagues. Unlike corporations, these leagues don't face much real competition from upstart their rivals so far.
while we see the leagues pretty actively, I to crush their competition? That again, is the sports economist, Victor Matheson. We had the NFL drive the? U S a fell out of business in nineteen eighty five at least partially through various means partially through fear Polly, incompetent management of the? U S, a foul, probably lead most by the owner, the New Jersey. You also fell team, of course, Donald Trump. You might think an economist would oppose this lack of competition. You might think he'd considered this behaviour downright collusive sports is really interesting in that you actually need some level of collusion between teams just to make the product work right. So this is not. This is not apple. An Samsung right apple, really does want to drive Samsung out of business, so they can grab the whole mobile phone market. Morgan Samsung wants to do the same thing. The apple
but the New York Yankees dont want to drive Austin, Red Sox out of business because they someone to play and you need a fig. How you gonna one your league, so that you can make a good entertaining product. The NFL product is Sir defiantly entertaining and therefore certify ugly. Lucrative importantly, this lucre is equally shared among the thirty two teams. Local revenues vary, but every team gets a one. Thirty second cut of the National revenue includes money from tv rights, sponsorships, licensing and merchandise, sales, less, here. The NFL total national revenue was more than eight billion dollars, with each team receiving more than two hundred and fifty million a lot of that and you will get paid out in player salaries for the two thousand eighteen season. There's a salary cap of one hundred and seventy seven. Point, two million dollars per team and owners have to spend at least a hundred fifty seven point, seven million dollars, but don't forget-
our local revenues coming in as well including ticket sales and that two hundred fifty million dollar check from the league. That's your share, whether you win every game, half your games or none when Jed Yorks Grandfather bought the San Francisco forty Niners nineteen. Seventy seven, you paid seventeen million dollars you. Obviously the team is probably also a bit more than seventy million today. That is true. Forbes estimates the four, you Niners value at three billion dollars, making it the tenth most valuable sports team in the world. that's without having won a super bowl since nineteen ninety five nets, with winning two games in two thousand. Sixteen, what would happen if a soccer team
in the English Premier League did that they'd get relegated to a lower league and their finances would crumble. The premier league would give them was called a parachute payment to help them avoid bankruptcy, but they have to sell off their best players and nfl team. That wins. Just two games, meanwhile, still get that two hundred fifty million dollar check from the home office. I actually Jochen my english premier, friends, that's Al Guido, the forty nine years president, not only you when we lose, we actually get gifted better draft tax, they actually get relegated down and have to try to come back up, so the football No, I mean I would love to be an end at honour because it's it's kind of a closed, right, I mean if you're in you literally camp, lose, I mean, can you lose money and the NFL? Sure I mean, if you're, if you're one of the lower revenues, your clothes, but it's hard it here are your points for yard. I asked Guido to describe his duties as club present
I oversee everything on football serve thing. These sales marketing, Gina functions of the team and the General Administrative, so finance human resources, legal. and saw those thing: land development, land development, in particular is a big piece of the forty Niners value proposition as it is for many sports. Franchised is no coincidence that so me team owners made their money in real estate. This includes Jed Yorks late grandfather. He was one of the first people to really take downtown to suburbia, and he really in closer copy, Maun built a great empire there, I'm one letter
owning an NFL team is a real estate play. Yes, the athletes are necessary to carry out the game, but athletes come and go. The stadium is the constant and it's a cash cow on at least three dimensions as a stage set for the lucrative tv contracts as a venue for live events, including, of course, the football games. and as sponsorship opportunity into doesn't fourteen the forty nine is built and moved into a one point: three billion dollars state of the art stadium. It's now called leave. I stadium after the genes maker Two hundred and twenty million dollars for a ten year naming deal some of that money goes to the. fourteen honours new Home town Santa Clara, which is in Silicon Valley, it's about an hour south of San Francisco, where the forty Niners had played since nineteen forty six,
Jed York again, we would have loved to state in the city of San Francisco, we looked at over eighty five sites in the Bay area, there's a lot of work that goes into from an environmental standpoint from a governmental standpoint, win It was announced that you are going to build a stadium down here. What was the general public response? It wasn't. A very positive response is making people wanted to sustain said he ran scan. Will you and what were you portrayed as greedy as not loyal what. Probably more than not work is in terms of greedy. They, there was very, very little public equity put into the building the modern stadium like Levi's, can generate a lot more revenue than old stadium thanks to luxury sweets and
the willingness of fans to pre purchase season tickets. The forty Niners, like most teams, don't just sell you. The tickets we first need to buy was called a personal seat licence, which then allows you to buy the tickets when Levi Stadium opened those licence and sold for two thousand to eighty thousand dollars per. see depending on location, Al Guido, again, vows. Ninety five. Ninety six percent of the building is sold out on season tickets, to rethink air to other, and I fell stadiums that about typical little high us very hide it very high. We are in the top or Thailand team revenues inside of the inner fell, keep in mind. The NFL teams only have a regular season home games per season with, precision games and if their lucky, you play off game or to that is not a very efficient use of an asset as expensive as a brand new high tech stadium. But nowhere The forty Niners are active landlords, two, according to Forbes Levi Stadium, in its first three years,
hosted more non nfl events than any other new stadium. Here's Bob in the forty Niners VP of communications, while giving us a stadium tour back in May. We are, we went straight from monster, trot into Taylor. Swift rain. Last weekend. and then now as soon as tell us who have got off the field, they are putting down sod, because we ve got a soccer match com and I'm sure So, from a business perspective, the forty nine years of the mid two thousand teens we're doing quite well: monetizing they're, beautiful new, real estate investment taking in theirs did he share of Vienna fills billions. The only problem is that their actual football teams think over three seasons from two thousand fourteen two thousand. Sixteen. They want a total just fifteen games, the New England Patriots, one fourteen games in
thousand sixteen alone, while the forty Niners for winning just two games that year. That was also the season. The forty and honours quarterback became the talk, not just the NFL, but the entire country com captain. It was just a few years removed from having led the forty nine years to the Superbowl, but as the teams fortunes fell so did he was bent. Then reinstalled as starter, and then bench again he asked to be traded, but the team refused. The sort of controversy is standard issue on NFL teams, but then cap Ethnic launched an entirely nonstandard controversy. It began after a spate of high
profile police, shootings of African Americans during the national anthem, let's play just before every NFL game Capron, except on the bench rather than standing on the sidelines with teammates. He later shifted his protest from sitting to kneeling during the anthem he said he wasn't interested in standing up to show pride in a flag for a country that, presses, black people and people of color is people being murdered, unjustly and not being accountable cops are getting paid leave for killing people. That's not right. As you are probably aware, this turned into a very
big deal calling happenings protest against racial injustice seems to be gaining traction. Other players around the league begin kneeling in solidarity with Pepper Nick the anthem protests became a political football. Turning the actual football into side show and to some degree a casualty. A slip in the NFL Tv ratings was attributed in part, at least to the anthem protests, although to be fair and it fell, ratings were down much less than most tv shows. Cabinet himself was ultimately released by the forty Niners. Any wasn't picked up by any other NFL team, despite having strong career numbers cabinet, accused the law of black bawling him, and he filed a collusion case which, as of today, is still unsettled. I asked forty Niners owner Jed York about the cabinet controversy. When you look at you know, African Americans specifically and folks of racial minority and and sort of police shootings there.
some things that really aren't good, not country calling probably took a different approach than I would have taken, but he certainly brought attention to the matter. I understand what people, where upset that he you know an action during the national anthem. But when I look at work on started I've sitting down during the national anthem. He changed. His position to doings. The thing that it's hard for me to see taking in me, I there's an if you can come. but the community or society were taking a knee is disrespectful accurate by all means show me so I M United. I feel like he tried to modify his position to me as respect was passed, during a very very you know, sacrosanct moment during a professional football game, and I think that the narrative sort of spun out of control- and then you ve, got
something that five years ago, no one could have predicted when you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a bitch up the veiled right now, Talk about that. Your communication with the White House, was how that affected. You some, we didn't, have any direct communication with the White House. The NFL bling office may have we we didn't the position that we took was whether you're for again somebody taking need during the national anthem you you have the constitutional right to be able to do That doesn't mean that you are, you know immune from having backlash because of you actions, but you have every right to set him to make that action to take that action, now there's a lawsuit, alleging collusion among owner is tell me what you can or do you know about that. I mean it's really hard to get into. Something That's an ongoing lawsuit. I know for us, you know
calling was kneeling before he regained his starting position with us so I mean that had nothing to do with his political stance was had so he was not starting. Then the protests started. Then he started again, yes and then, but he did it Did you finish out? The season then started an affinity decision to start with a sigh. that would seem to be evidence it is no effort by the forty Niners diminishes rational abilities, rain. I passing I've I certainly don't believe that their work and we had negative conversations with other teams. Don't sign column like that. Wasn't we wouldn't do I would call we wouldn't do that with anybody else. Were you deposed? I was in the Washington was anybody from the Niners deposed the belgian case. I don't believe you between the cap and exciting and there were season in many years. The forty nine We're ready for big changes. Just tiring
coach every year wasn't working out, so they realized what my best is to start from scratch and do a full reboot, because Do we have that each time wasn't most given us the right answer, that's Parag, Marathi and so The best way to do it is to build it up from the bottom again. Marathi is unofficially Jed Yorks right hand, man and officially. I am a forty nine as enterprises and Ebay pay. If up operations brought TAT, has been with the forty nine years since two thousand one before that he worked as management consultant and at the sports agency I am G is MBA, is from Stanford his undergrad degree from Berkeley and he grew up nearby in Saratoga, a child of indian immigrants is dad was an engineer who, when Parag was ten decidedly want to start a family business. The american dream, might start a new business and we put it to a family vote. My dad was gay. patient. My mama's party store my sister and I were Peters. We bought a pizza restaurant.
And were eventually kind of the place I gather as twelve or thirteen, but it was fun. I had hired but my friend and serious work. There we manage. It beats restaurant labour law. They remain exactly so. I delivered peaches to answer school kids, I didn't know literally every street and set out. In fact, if you gave me home address out probably tell you, the phone number or vice versa seriously, with the forty Niners Murat TAT has been involved in everything from contract negotiations to salary cap management to the animal Department, when the team bottomed out into them. Sixteen, he and Jed York acknowledge that they needed to hire yet another new coach. The teams forth in four years but they also needed a new general manager. That's the person responsible for deciding which players to get which wants to get rid of and what kind of contracts they could afford within the salary They also realise they had to rethink the alliance between coach and g,
to make sure they were rowing in the same direction so We ve done a lot of research on success organizations and one what made them work and what didn't and one of the things that was of paramount importance is First of all, having a head coach at a general manager that were in the same I've cycle of their careers are ones not think about saving their jobs and one's dropping about trying to prove themselves right and another thing was, you know, you have different structures across every club, sometimes the gems on top the coach energy. Sometimes it's the other way round. We wanted to set it up where they were partners and they come. A minute each other on what their respective skill set can be and then it went out, and I didn't where we looked at. All sports and thought of what are the? What are the key attributes of a of a head coach at we're? Looking for what are the key personality traits in the key sort of skill sets the same thing at a GM, so we gave each candidate a list of ten. skills of a head coach regime, and we said we want you to rank these
the ten not on how important they are, but on how good you are at them and by the way you have to be one I attend on something you have to be Tena Tenant, something right. and it was the answer so much that we cared about as like how they arrived at it and how they talked about it afterwards. Israelis, not to put down a man. So many guys did one two three four and then six where high for five right, because it couldn't be worse than anything right. and so just that conversation that I couldn't they couldn't Just the allow themselves to be bad at something but the forty nine hours eventually did find someone who knew its own limitations. Rum, who is assuming, are this bad things going to have what we do to prepare ourselves, and that is Carl Shanahan, her coach, forty Niners Shanahan
it is only thirty eight and had never been a head coach, but he had been a wildly successful offensive coordinator for a few teams and not unimportant me. He is the son of a wildly successful and it fell head coach MIKE Shanahan, now growing. You know I was round, for my whole life might Shanahan one to superimpose as head coach of the Denver Broncos. He was also the office of Coordinator for the forty nine hours. back when they won their last Superbowl, which meant that Kyle Shanahan went to high school here in the simplest go area? In fact, when he was a kid- and this is apropos of nothing, but it's too do not tell you when Kyle Shanahan was a kid. He would go for pizza at the pizzeria run by another kid Parag Marathi, the man who would eventually higher Shanahan to coach,
nine years later, the Roma. In early two thousand, seventeen, as the forty nine hours were deciding to give Kyle Shanahan. His first had coaching job. He was pretty busy as orphans of coordinator of the Atlantic Falcons who were preparing to play in the Superbowl again. knowing the Patriots, Parag, Marathi and Jed York, however, really wanted Shanahan input on who they should higher as GM? Can you with this GM. Can you me with this guy like no hunger, ready for a play off and get ready for the super bowl, and so God, very stressful. For me and then add the blue Shanahan got a text from someone. A former fell great, who was now a football broadcaster and who was a huge fan of Kyle Shanahan girls. that he was one of those guys. There was one step ahead of the competition, and that is ok my name is John Lynch. For years I thought your actual person was hard hitting.
He might never meant that hardly any damage, Lynch retired as an NFL player in two thousand eight and was now calling games for Fox? I haven't had a good career going in the right, asked world and was great to me, loved every second of it, but you must. Competition. I did. I did you know everybody. I think at certain points it and ears in you? Do self evaluation and sand gosh, my life's really going well, I got a great family. I'm proud of my kids, get a great marriage, love and broadcast but what's my last guy exactly and there was always of but I was a little and fulfilling when Lynch heard the Kyle Shanahan had been offered. The fourteen honours had coaching job he called to Caen. And you let him- and I had seen somebody before- that he was struggling finding someone he wanted to work with as a general manager and I just kind of
out there at the end of our conversation. I said I you know, maybe maybe I'd do it and he was very polite about it and he goes journey got I just don't you worry about it, but it's one, I would be very interested and I went stairs and remember, tat. My parents who know John Medea, coached hunger, well, I have to say, and, as I say severe GM might as well. Do you think I like I think I really like that in it took a lot of anxiety away because All I want to someone who loves football, who smart and capable of doing it, and so on together with John Lynch, as GM was a bit of a stretch. He'd. Never been a football coach or executive, but he had been a great player and he was smart. You played his college football at Stanford. There is one more thing going for: lunch is just presents Parag Marathi again, he has such amazing presents you just you yeah you're around them for half an hour,
if you want to be a better version of yourself, and so it came to pass that in early two thousand seventeen a few weeks after firing, their previous head, coach and general manager. The forty Niners had their new leadership duo, an up and coming I'm coach and an inspiring first, time. Gm now I had to do was get the kind of players who could win them. Some football games, like this guy, sounded on the subway examine the services of another Thomas was born in Chicago than his family, moved to Australia several years and then to Texas, whose big kid so naturally in Texas from like. Why are you playing football? I really don't know the, and so we find out that the problem of morphine first practice is gonna was tackling this guy because I know what to do. I was telling us about the Thomas figured out the game pretty quickly and was eventual
recruited to play at Stanford if you ve, begun to think there's a bit of a standard mafia within the I was organization you might not be wrong. It also might not be a total coincidence in one of his first classes at Stanford, Thomas recognised and older guy sitting up front and one who's that it was. Oh crap was John Wayne to my kind of a little starstruck John Lynch now and his fortys and in his broadcasting phase, had gone back to Stanford to complete his degree couple years later, as the brand new GM of the forty Niners. The first player Lynch drafted with the third overall pick with Salmon Thomas, is a vital energy. And he's. I visit your former classmate John, who gives a hammer Shanahan called you jarring. Probably first said Athos me Pretty insane Thomas was one of the key.
young players, the forty nine hours were rebuilding their defence around the office. Meanwhile, that was Kyle Shanahan Specialty the offence needed even more help, especially quarterback It's a tough us to me position in the world and there's on their thirty two teams, and there isn't thirty, two people who can play that position. the level need it mean. If you look at see I think, the last seventeen and nineteen years it's basically been three quarterbacks. That's forty! Nine is President Al Guido, again source Brady Pain, Manning Ben rather's, Burgers Franklin, a few Joe Flacket was, and that's it with Cullen. Capron gone the forty nine or is best quarterback options were siege, a battered and Brian holier, neither of whom were the good options, but Shanahan and John Lynch and the whole organization knew it be hard work to turn things around and there's anything Kyle Shadow is really really really good at its working hard during the season. You know Monday's on museum
I've. Thirty everyday. I leave a Monday at eleven on a Tuesday at midnight on a Wednesday at midnight, on a Thursday at nine hundred and thirty and on Friday, I leave at two hundred and thirty Fridays like my weekend or I get home about three hundred and thirty that's the night at kind of hang out my kids Saturday, we on minute thirty. We use your Travelin somewhere or we have mean walked right over two hours and go to the hotel. You the team hotel in size, everyone does and then on Sundays. but the stadium very early in the morning. You hear these stories forever about coaches, Zena, literally sleeping in their offices work in these hours that you describe like anything, anybody listening this those hours, sound totally nuts and thought his eyes like? Does it really have to be that way for people who don't know the game or care about it and they wait a minute, you're football coach alive. You need to be Workin eighteen hour, I dont. What are you doing this
on Monday. I as I had cogent Anita watched the game, myself, which is often society deepens aside. Special teams, its rewind vast board, silent copying, zoologist three cliffs, offering the best one plan one the ball, and I'm gonna watch it with the coaches and Einstein I gotta get the whole team together and I absurd clubs, the tea from head coach standpoint than there anyway. It takes all mother takes all Monday and We had a star watching However, we play the next Sunday, Ex several minutes Shanahan describes in exhausting detail the rest of the week. I teach
capacity for me tonight and we teach the run game from nine to ten than our special teams. Coats comes then from tender ten forty five seats specialty. Then we go out on the field and we have to walk through all the new stuff. We learned that we come back in a we launch. Should we go out and have a real practicality before tomorrow we gotta go study. Third down here, study shore Yardage goal. I gotta draw out the plan put among cards how, in practice tomorrow we'll need to read on Thursday national Friday same process. Eleven geysers, eleven guys it's. how many different things you can do one guy is off the players. neither side the ball and pleasant work could be a her quarterback to be a touchdown the reason you're telling her second. radar that she's movie next week you're, so there's not be other ways to do. I know it's embarrassing were not doctors of repeat source by like it's. I don't try to explain to people watch because its laughable,
anybody ever tried. Then he could you said: you know work. Maybe all those hours ever working if we slept more we'd, be sharper and try to make up. For that way. They will be retried of totally different approaches. Toy and those are no longer coaching guys but never another name, and I mean it's: it's ok, if we're tired and we barely can function. I hope you don't have to perform the play it's us wearing our brains out all week to put our players and the best opportunity possible for them to be successful coming up after the break? just? How successful was fourteen honours turn around effort? When your wife here's radio all day, she read stuff, she you get home and our once been saying that their husbands so values than alive, but then believe it or not something magical
it's not like Jimmy, was the saving right. It's the whole team. That's coming right up and if you want to hear the bull, on edited interviews with forty nine years, executives, coaches, players, etc. There are many hours of tape, didn't make. This episode sign up for sticker premium, just go to stitch up premium, dot, com, flash economics and use a promo code for economics get one month. in September of two thousand seventeen, the iconic San Francisco forty nine years. Franchise was ready for the renaissance. They had a new coach, you general manager, many new players of Gordon
and relatively new stadium and seemingly all sorts of wind at their back and then they play their first game. They got crushed by the Carolina Panthers twenty three to three house this team will be fine. It's a good half of John Lynch cops getting their young and do they're going to get better to season goes on, but things didn't get better before Andrews lost again and again again and again six street losses to open the season. Amazingly, the last five for all by three points or I mean that's hard on ahead coach, John Lynch, the rookie John a manager was worried about his rookie head coach, Kyle Shanahan, then I think a big part of my job the first year was being a psychologist to him.
Did your whole life to do this now and sudden and a historic fashion. We lost five games by three points. Are less never been done in this Leah how'd. You interpret those five close losses. Were the two thousand seventeen San Francisco, forty nine you're still catastrophically bad, or were they really close to turning the corner? The next few, aims answered that question largest market, a victory over the forty nine is going all the way back to nineteen hundred and eighty, the forty nine had begun, their supposed turnarounds ease and oh and nine. This affected everyone in the building and their families, including Al Guido. Now you're old daughter, so the Kizil either make fun of my daughter writer she, whereas for an Irish though they for, I think you know what your dad doing a thing. I've known you lose a game. A lot of noise happens, it's coach Shanahan again not the strong media members and talk show host, but from family members from anybody you lose too.
Whatever happens, usually threes like Armageddon, try, nine and it happens to wear mania, here's radio all day she read stuff, she ventured get home and once been saying that their husbands sucks so She was an ally, and eventually you say it was a meal. Is this position and chimpanzees that to another wife and that's how teams get torn apart? I've never lived for many years in the season I'm over, maybe my career. Nowadays, that was defensive, end Solomon, Thomas and here is the law backer. Malcolm Psmith knows Miserable when I actually wasn't Blancos uninjured So's I, throughout all last year, helpless, yeah I'd say I was taking it harder than than some of the gas will feel you're watching. You really can do anything just daily the orphans of Lyman, who things he was also her steely played through. It didn't miss a game, but he started talking about
quitting football when the season was over a year eleven, although my six petticoats swearer, I think at this time, like Owen seven and was justified, and I have mental lapse of weakness. There were. I was just you know the adversity kind of got to me, Definitely super frustrating not how we expected things to start. That is the full back killed use check, but you'd be surprised. How positive thing state around here is pretty incredible. Use check who played his college football at Harvard was also hurt last season heard game, he got a concussion, so your plan, the Allay Rand's and we the goal line and smack Had with their linebacker and tat are really it was really weird. It was almost like, like a pal liked is bringing I thought I remember fee playing a game tuning fork, I'm pretty sure, but it
Sin and the huddled like I'm definitely master by like Do I sit down and light waves? Eridu. Let's just run this explained. Then I'll figure it out after that went off I've been so quickly. I stated around the next play and it was the worst decision same thing ran into line back on that one be enough. I put me out where I was going to unconscious. For a second, then headed. You know it get taken in by the trainers, and I, like I said, It sounds like you regret. The designer play definitely a high social taken myself. How bad things happen so quickly learn how much effort is also just you know, macho there's live it up There were just stupid position, be that's changing. Their gather in ITALY is changing like there's. No shame in like taken yourself on their situation like your brain is way too important for this kind of stuff, and I think I think I, start to understand that a lot more but
still, I think so in green and all of us that there's a little bit of that pride that still keeps guys in there as you, chick was recuperating from his concussion the forty nine years season kept getting worse and yet he said Kyle Shanahan managed to keep his Bowen nineteen from turning on each other or on themselves. Nobody was walk on eggshells here, we're so very confident that we are moving in the right direction: every week, I'll pull of some kind Mr Show, and I were making progress. I swear guys just stick to it gonna turn around, and I have to say that just sounds like exactly the opposite of what lay people think about four we think, like you, could have a pretty the game and then they call you in the show you this is the block you missed and so on that definitely exist I believe that a part of that too, but I
feeling it's more of a kind of a new age. Thinking of this more positive feedback- and I know it, definitely resonates with me. You know never gotten much from a cautious just scream at me and tell me how terrible I am. I just doesn't work for me, cause, I can't say each other like we can go in there and profit and throw waterfall general manager, John Wench again, but those guys would give it. standing attitude each day and here's Kyle Shanahan over two and fourteen team. We know we had a long way to work. We then expect beyond. I bore gonna, keep working and not reinvent the wheel, and we ve heard everybody in the building that it was a remarkable positive, locker room and most people Do that to you, I'm curious to hear what you did specifically to make that happen. I did a good job was my first time. Situation in. Having every situations different living people act like there's like a book
or something to handle situation? You gotta just what the situation is, and you don't know that till you're in it the reason the forty nine hours were in that situation is that they didn't have a quality, quarterback and, as Shanahan told us. As the toughest to me position in the world and those on the thirty two teams, and there isn't thirty, two people who can play that the level needed, but member in the Vienna as in all the big american sports leagues, the worse, a teams record. Is at the end of the season. The better position, though, be to draft the best players from college we're. Oh nine. I knew we're gonna, be in a position to have a high traffic, a lotta quarterbacks we're coming out Are we not going to go in the first round, but there was a quarterback already indian, who Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch thought could be a good fit for the forty nine years. I have studied the matter college I studied gotta. Come not a college. He was one of the guys who kept shown by cows. Teach states in terms of the quick release
the accuracy of the trade you're. Looking for and quarterbacks, this quarterback was in its fourth season in the NFL, but he barely played at all and that's because he was the backup to one the most successful quarterbacks in history, Tom Brady of New England, Patriots Brady had just turned forty years old, but he had declared that he did not planned retire anytime soon, and this declaration apparently made the backup quarterback, the heir, apparent eighty expendable. Here's, forty Niners owner Jed York. You know it's hardest. To see into somebody else's building and know where they are and what they're doing. But when you have Tom Brady and Tom, says he wants a play another four or five years. That's a very, very difficult vision to make for the patriots I am, Shanahan and Lynch. How surprised they were to learn that a quarter back, they coveted had suddenly become available for
I, was surprised because we checked earlier in the early, wasn't then, and then it happened just a day or two days for the trader life. You know we called the Patriots battle. We quickly got shut down, They were not interested and get rid of a multilateral blame on them. Something changed and we, the beneficiary that Panda Picard Genius, What do you say we go? We are lucky. This quarterbacks name is Jimmy Guerrilla without Gus grapples agent, who happens also be Tom. Brady's agent, called to tell him he'd been traded in forty nine years, but drop below didn't pick up. The took an app woke up. five hundred tax measures. Tottered miss cause. How long will you I wasn't Elias where growth through so many emotions, initially to know. What's going on a normal situation before and so your emotions are gone while the next thing I knew was a foreign iron address. This history drop below was an expected to play a right away, maybe not even until next season he had to leave
the forty Niners offence from scratch an Shanahan saw no reason to rush their quarterback of the future may be get him hurt and then, in the tenth game of the season, the forty Niners. Finally, one behind quarterback see J bettered but the following week they were getting beaten badly and then bettered got hurt. There is no way to salvage the victory Shanahan sent garage low in any way we're walking off the field in the crowd She thought cheering and we discovered alone out and are like fans were cited. Ok! So now the forty Niners are one in ten in the next game. Garage below This first step, the forty Niners beat
cargo bears fifteen fourteen years. Solomon Thomas, about one felt so good, and some of you wanna take for granted that we always want to keep feeling the next game. Jimmy gravel passed for three hundred and thirty four yards and fourteen there's one again and began alone. Jimmy came in was doing the movie, It is crucial with the rapid, leading the way the San Francisco forty There's one five three games, including three against play off bound teams. They finished the season. six into what are the odds of a team losing their first now games and then winning their last five. You can't count that high. It's done Jimmy was the Saviour right. It's the whole team, Parag Murat taken and every single player played better had.
our confidence and and saw combination culmination of their hard work and patients that they had towards the vision sort of come to fruition. Jimmy was the catalyst like the first spark plug, but it really ignited the whole team here's Jos Daily embryos, huge for our two, my surface. Where we do, Jimmy coming and really meant to use different for us, and I use check. Thank you really gotta give Jimmy Alot of credit. I mean he put it soon this time after practice, with the coaches by himself I may use here all night just trying to learn that playbook, an Jed York, the I mean it was very clear that Jimmy was a guy that you took everybody's tension on the field like the guy's gravitated towards him and he's in actual leader as a reward Jimmy garage below having sat on the beach.
For four seasons in New England and then started a grand total of five games for San Francisco grappled signed a five year contract worth a hundred and thirty seven point five million dollars. It was at that point the richest contract in NFL history. For the most part, I just gotta do my thing in all the outside noises. Fishes noise. caught up in all that stuff. You can have a tough time felt hard enough, as it is from everything that we heard from everyone on the exact side on the players I years some combination of lake. Why, tat all end Superman and Jesus Christ, like people just gather around you and love. You, moreover yeah. I think I've never really tried fake area, be someone that I'm not good guys, I mean especially in a locker, and they see right through the other, not done so. You have the beers I don't know I've always dogmas Wanna guys, and I think that plays a big partner,
It had been a bizarre season for the forty. Nine is the deepest gloom reply almost overnight, but the brightest futures. But now there's a question: what exactly are the San Francisco? Forty minors? Are they the best. Six and ten team in history, the team that one there last five games or are they well a six and ten team? Those six and ten one year or not very likely to win the Superbowl next year. Although sport being sport, crazy things do happen, that's one reason we like it. So what happens this year back in May, when we visited the forty Niners at asked York and everyone else to predict how the team would finish this year, answers were to me at least remarkable, and they probably said a lot about
what kind of minds that you need to run a team in the mindset of a working athlete. Here's how the executives, York, Guido Lynch and Marathi answered when I asked about their expectations getting me- you never know what's gonna happen in an fell season, but it is really about getting better each and every game. I don't have any actions on Windsor losses. I want to put a number on it that we continue to stand the path like if we We were still building towards something and it didn't necessarily lead to win. That's okay! If we are on that path that we're all believing I think, you'd agree that the executives are the definition of non committal and here are the players and they think you'd agree or anything. But noncommittal here. In order are Solomon, Thomas Kyle Use Check Malcolm Smith in Jos Daily. You know. Those two is the way it on our side. We we have the potential to do
I got high expectations. I spoke to win. I think you can our. We feel that things feel a lot different than they did last year. The ultimate success will be suitable. I always think of it as a service. We also spoke with the forty. Nine is placed kicker Robbie gold, one of the most accurate and productive pickers in the modern NFL he's been in the week since two thousand five most of those years with the Chicago bears he's grateful for his long Jeff. The and realistic about his future. Romania can be here. One day I got an accident occurred in Chicago, today, we can, after making a team and then the next day out, is higher. Your hopes for this year obviously ended last year. Amazingly. Well, I think the expectations and lock room in the fuel and the virus. it is pretty high, you think tank and went against they re going to serve all in all. I think this is a matter of,
How bad do you want it like? I'm not here to one t shirt, I'm here for to win at Tiffany's trophy, that's it that's the only reason I'm here and if you are here for a t, shirt and hat then I'll buy you the t, shirt that cuz. I want the trophy in the end, if L season, that's just begun, the San Francisco forty nine hours lost their first game on the road against the favoured Minnesota Vikings and then beat the Detroit Lions at home, but barely yearly blowing a big lead. Jen York told me by email after the game. We need to finish better if we want to get to the promised land next time on for economics. Radio. Where did these athletes come from? What sort of talent and sacrifice and work does it take to get to the promised land? And but about luck? Oh my gosh? I think a ton of luck is involved are hidden side of sport. Serious continues.
look at what it takes to become an elite Ethel. I did a bunch of pushups and set ups that night and two hours throwing up shooting about Gabon seeing it go through. The net became just an obsession. We look at what kind of people do and don't the opportunities enlightened. Eighty one there was eighteen point: seven percent black african american players in the major leagues. As of two thousand eighteen seven point, eight percent will hear about the role of talent, there's ten thousand talented players with with a gift, its, which are the ones that figure it out, which are the ones that get it and will hear what sport you should get. Your kid into. The goal is getting into an elite university. So the answer I think is you want your kid to be offensive. That's next time
and if you wanna hear the full on edited interviews with all the forty nine years personnel you heard from in today's episode. Those will be posted on sticker premium, just go to stitch up premium, dot, com, slash, reconnects and use promo code for economics. For one month free cricket, I'm its radio is produced by sticker in Dublin productions. This episode was produced by Anders Kilter with help from Derek John special thanks to all the forty nine years, but especially Bob laying their BP of communications. Our staff includes Allison Craig Low Greg been Gregg result: Ski Alvin, Meloth, Harry Huggins, Zack Levinsky in animals and hammer the music you hear through our observers was composed by Luis Gara Economics, radio can found on apple pot, kiss or wherever you get your punk ass, our entire archive is available on the stitches app or for economics that com, where we also publish transcripts and show notes and stick your point.
You will find the entire archive ad free, as well as lots of bonus episodes, including full into It is with the forty Niners as well as other extracts from our hidden side of sports series, just go to stitch up premium, dot com, slash for economics, We can also be found on NPR stations across the country check your local listing for the schedule, as well as on Twitter, Facebook linked in or the email at radio at for economics, dot com. Thanks for listening, Teacher.
Transcript generated on 2021-01-20.