« Freakonomics Radio

How the San Francisco 49ers Stopped Being Losers (Ep. 350 Update)

2020-01-29 | 🔗

One of the most storied (and valuable) sports franchises in the world had fallen far. So they decided to do a full reboot — and it worked: this week, they are headed back to the Super Bowl. Before the 2018 season, we sat down with the team’s owner, head coach, general manager, and players as they were plotting their turnaround. Here’s an update of that episode. 

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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For economics. Radio sponsored by bear progress is a human and mentioned. We look at our world and imagine how to make it better. It bear scientists. Developers working with farmers to help shape the future of agriculture like farms were crops and wildlife thrive together in new digital tools that allow farms to use less water, land and energy it science for a better life from bear More about how there is shaping the future of agriculture visit crop science, dot bear dot, com. FR radio sponsored by bear progress is a human and mentioned, we look at our world and imagine how to make it better. It bear scientists, developers working with farmers to help shape the future of agriculture like farms were crops and wildlife thrive together in new digital. Tools that allow farms to use less water, land and energy. It science for a better life from bear.
More about how there is shaping the future of agriculture. Visit crop science tat bear dot com, You they're Stevens once in a while. An episode from our archive suddenly becomes very, very timely. For instance, back in two thousand eighteen, we put out an episode pulled how to stop being a loser about the San Francisco forty nine years. It was part of our hidden side of sport series the emphasis Looked at how once phenomenally successful franchise had become well a big loser and what they were trying to do about that There are twenty eighteen season didn't go much better in the third game of the season. There new star, quarterback Jimmy Garage hello, hurt his knee without for the year eighteen limped to a four and twelve record this year before
he Niners put together one of the most memorable turnarounds in recent sports history. San Francisco go into the Superbowl. What a big when tonight over Green Bay, and so with the forty tigers, trying to win their six Superbowl against Kansas City Chiefs, we thought you might like to hear how they got there. So here again, is that episode from two thousand eighteen with was a minor updates, where needed everywhere, We interviewed for this episode is still with the forty nine years, except for the linebacker, Malcolm Smith, and some players we interviewed were particularly important the Niner success this year, including garage hello, Robbie, gold, Kyle use check as well as head
which Kyle, Shanahan and general manager. John Ledge hope you enjoy pretend for just a second that you own, a National Football League team. How awesome of that me 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 american people arrange their schedules to watch NFL games. They are so passionate about your product that they routinely dress up, like your employees. Think about that. You ever seen anybody wearing Eu Ps Uniform who doesn't work for you PS. This passion translates into millions of eyeballs billions of dollars. So, however, Richie started out now
you're, getting even richer. 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 one of the most success, four invaluable franchises. Ever am the ceo, this impetus before United wisest catches in the nineteen Eightys and Ninetys the San Francisco, forty nine is one five Superbowl Did you work is forty years old, the tea it has been in his family for years. I rotated through every single department and my first gateway. Really the equipment room like learning how to show the same place on the jerseys and doing that stuff.
You're the ceo. I realize that your title, it's your operations and are you the owner and owner? How does the ownership work, and so my family owns ninety plus percent of the team? And you know it's split between my Sib My parents and I my mother's the controlling owner of the team. As work, was moving up from the equipment room. The Ceos office, the teams, glue Three days were receding. They did make it to another verbal eight years ago, but they lost
it's hard to lose a shepherd boy 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 Yorkshire been fired. They rendered a plain fluid over the stadium. With that very message, Yorks response was pre sensible. I own this football team. You dont dismiss owners now imaginative I'm time all that was happening. This was also happening. San Francisco foreigners quarterback now during the national anthem calling happenings protest against racial injustice seems to be gaining traction and that led to this, wouldn't you to see one of these areas for when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a bitch up the bill.
Right now out these. Amidst all this, chaos on and off the field Jed York hit the reset button. The forty nine restarted, the two thousand seventeen season 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 disco, forty Niners, those high hopes turned out to be misplaced, largest margin of 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 of noise happens when you lose to a ton, happens. Usually threes like Armageddon. Try, nine nine street losses to start well disposed 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 were very sport- is increasingly thought of. To violent and brutal for the modern world. You, surely you still own a football team today on Friggin Amis radio? Despite some headwinds nfl, football is still one of the most popular commodities in sports history. We all know what it's like to consume this commodity, but take to produce it before the twenty eighteen season began. We spent a couple days inside the forty nine was complex talking to everyone ownership, and senior management head coach, in general manager and, of course, the players, including the one honey,
Thirty, seven million dollar quarterback orgasm Jimmy rob, learn your listing, the free Dynamics, radio, and we learned a lot, for instance, how the sports industry is, unlike other industries, so you actually need some level of collusion just to make the product work right. We learned how winning is everything, but losing can be pretty great too when we lose. We actually get gifted better draft text will hear how and I felt he 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 or with wait. I know it's a lot, the hair, the bad You stare at demigod for workers, except you come on
from stature and Dublin productions. This is freakin radio, the podcast casket explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host indefinite when we first thought about doing a hidden side of sport series. We knew you'd 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 fort we figured we go straight to the top. Of the sports 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
team 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 nine. What do you know yeah 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 in practices which are too equally called 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
to 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 play off in eight years, so Jim was at Stanford when we hire them. That again, is forty hunters, owner and CEO Jed York and genocide, That is just a huge personality. It was a personality that harbour was not shy to show in public personal, much crap and I think, Jim, you know he can certainly rubbed someday the wrong way, but he's not worried about you know, I'm innovation. Everybody gets along like he's, he has one focus in mind and that's you know how to how do I win Three to seventeen is the file stories. Harbour is in his schemes approach as or about turn
the team around immediately. They had three excellent seasons, including that losing appearance in the Superbowl against Baltimore Ravens team, whose coach was bizarrely Harbaugh brother, was the harbor, of all Jim and John Harbaugh Ravens, nor Niners to the best teams, the whig dish, to me how much it hurts to lose a Superbowl? You know it's it's weird, because we ve lost and I championship games before and it's weird the more easy to lose the Superbowl, 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 everyone The forty Niners building is a sanguine, as owner Jedi, losing the survival of Alabama saw. It was ass, though the worst Emma Life, thanks are bringing them. That's Jos, daily, in the left hand, concepts: fiscal foreigners- I've been on the team for this. My twelve season coming up so only play here in San Francisco
and your easily the longest tenured veteran here, elbows launcher Airbus. Looking yes look, and you knows I have to say we have 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, which me in addition to being the longest tenured, forty, nine Stanley. Also one of the largest six foot, six about two? Ninety five threaten besides he's also known as being one of the dubious for rice hook hotter, no past two years. It's no worry ease for the rest of Europe Day ease its daily, also hosts no budget web series called the Joe Show filmed in the forty nine is locker room and our first
since my eighth favorite player on the football team, lots and everybody who has got pays to stay loose. If you are an NFL player, it is a fairly ruthless business that forty nine team that went to the Superbowl eight years ago. Stanley is one of just two players still on the team at fifty three: that's how much turn over there can be on and it fell roster, especially when the 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 willing to chicken. For where onto a new coach and a new season with even worse results. 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 carry, is at a press conference right after the disastrous two thousand sixteen season Jed, you dismissed your general manager and coach because it didn't reach certain up form standards, that's part of it. Ok, let's stick to that point. Why shouldn't you be dismissed or reassign for the same reasons again, nothing I mean to say is gonna, be say something. That's when York said this, I own this football team. You dont dismiss owners, no one's happy. When then, avail 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 you're something important to know about the National Football League and the other big american sports leagues. Every time, in every league of course, wants to win, but they don't have to win to be financially successful. Consider the NFL the League 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 invitation. Only unlike 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 upset sir rivals so I've always see the leagues. Pretty active they try to crush their competition. That, again, is the sports economist, Victor Matheson we have.
The NFL dry the? U S a fell out of, business in nineteen. Eighty five at least partially various means partially through fear. Holy incompetent management of the. U S, a foul, probably lead most by the of the New Jersey? U s a foul team, of course, normal tromp. You may think an economist would oppose this lack of competition. You might think he'd consider this behaviour downright collusive. Sports is real 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. Samson wants to do this, things apple, but the new, The Yankees dont want to drive. Boston, 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 intervals product is certify ugly, 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 last year, the felt total national revenue was more than eight billion dollars, with each team receiving more than two hundred and fifty million alarm that money will get paid out in player salaries. For the two thousand nineteen season there were the salary cap, of just over a hundred eighty, eight million dollars per team and owners have to spend at least a hundred and sixty seven and a half million dollars. But don't forget, there are cool revenues coming in his 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 nine. Ninety seven Seven, he paid seventeen million dollars university. It is probably worth a limit more than seventy million. Today. That is true, Forbes estimates nine, is value at three and a half billion dollars, making it one of the ten most valuable sports teams in the world. That's without having won the Superbowl since one. 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 relic. It had to lower league and their finances will crumble. The premier league would give them what's 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 gets that
one in and fifty million dollar check from the home office. I actually Jochen minors from their friends. That's Al Guido, the forty nine years, president, not only do when we lose. We actually get gifted better draft tax they actually get relegated down and have to travel back up. So the football business I mean? I would love to be an end. It honour because it's it's kind of a closed, right. I mean, if you're in you literally can't 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 ask we do to describe his duties as club present. I oversee everything on football, serve thing these sales, marketing, Gina functions of the team and General administrative, so finance human resources, legal,
insurance and those thing: land, development, land development, in particular, is a big piece of the forty Niners value proposition as it is for many sports franchise is no coincidence that so a team owners made their money in real estate. This includes Jed Yorks late grandfather. He was one of the first people to really take you know, the downtown to suburbia- and he really in closer shopping, Morn daughter, a great empire there on one level owning and I fell. 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 in two thousand fourteen, the forty nine is built and moved into a one point: three billion dollars: state of the art stadium. It's now called Levi's 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 hometown 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 have stayed 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 it from an environmental standpoint from a governmental standpoint, win it was announced that you were going to build a stadium down here. What was the general public response? It wasn't a very positive responses. Wages people wanted to sustain said he ran scrambling you and what were you portrayed as greedy as not loyal? What
Probably more than not work is in terms of greedy. They there is 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 willing. The fans to pre purchase season tickets, the forty nine, like most teams, don't just sell you tickets, we first need to buy, was called a personal seat licence, which then allows you to buy the tickets when Levi Stadium Open those licence and sold for two thousand to eighty thousand dollars perceive depending on location. Al Guido again,
thousand 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 portal and 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 gamer too. That is not a very efficient use of an asset as expensive as a brand new high tech stadium. But don't worry the forty Niners are active landlords two according to Forbes, leave stadium in its first three years, hosted more non nfl events than any other new stadium. Here's Bob Lang, the forty Niners VP of communications, while giving us a stadium tour back two thousand eighteen. We we went straight from monster truck into Taylor, swift rain last weekend, a man now as soon as terrorists who have got off the field. They are putting
sod, because we ve got a soccer match comin up shortly? 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 their seats He share of the NFL billions. The only problem was at their actual football team, stank over three seasons from thousand fourteen two thousand sixteen, they want to total just fifteen games. The new England Patriots, one fourteen games in two thousand sixteen alive while the forty nine for winning just two games that year. That was also the season. The forty nine quarterback became the talk and not just the NFL, but the entire country column,
happened. 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 benched, then reinstalled as starter and then benched again he asked to be traded, but the team refused. This sort of controversy is standard issue on NFL teams, but then cap Ethnic launched an entirely nonstandard controversy again after a spate of high profile police shootings of African Americans during the national anthem, let's play just before every NFL game, Capron sat on the bench rather than standing on the sidelines with teammates 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
ass, his black people and people of color, there's people being murdered, unjustly and not being held 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 begin kneeling in solidarity. With cap, the anthem protests became a political football during the actual football into sideshow into some degree. A casualty slip in the NFL Tv ratings was attributed in part at least two the anthem protests, although to be fair and fell, readings 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, cap accuse the League of Black bawling him and he filed a collusion case. He and the league eventually settled
or an undisclosed amount. I had asked forty nine owner Jed York about the cabinet controversy. When you look at you know, African American, specifically folks of racial minority and and sort of police shootings. There some things that really aren't good in country column probably took a different approach than I would have taken, but he certainly brought attention to the matter I understand where people, where upset that he took an act during the national anthem. But when I look at work on started up sitting down during the national anthem. He changed his position to doings the thing that it is hard for me to see taking in me. I there's a view, come up with a community or society were taking a knee. Is disrespectful accurate by mean show me. So I mean I feel like he tried to modify his position to me as respect
was possible 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 waiter if there was any and how that affected you. So we did. Have any direct communication with the White House. The NFL leave office May. Have we didn't that position? There he took, was whether your four against we taking a 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 me from having backlash because of your act, but you have every right to attempt to make that action to take that action.
Between the captain saga and there were season. In many years the forty Niners were ready for big changes, just hiring and coach every year wasn't working out, so they realized when my best is to start from scratch and do a full reboot cause, do half of it. 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 president of forty enterprises and easy peer for operations. Rotten 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. His MBA is from Stanford his undergrad degree from Berkeley and he grew up nearby in Saratoga
child of indian immigrants is dad was an engineer who, when Parag was ten decided who want to start a family business. The american dream. Right start a new business and we put it to a family vote. My dad was gas My mama's party store my sister and I were Peters. We bought a meter restaurant and were eventually kind of the place, I gather as twelve or thirteen, but it was fun. I had hired am I threatened zero. All worked there. We manage the pits restaurant leader they were exactly so. I delivered pizzas to answer look it's, I didn't know literally every street and Saratoga. 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 cuts management to the analytics department when, team bottomed out into them. Sixteen, he and Jed York acknowledged that they needed a higher. 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 done a lot of research on successful organizations and one what made them work and what didn't and that one of the things that was of paramount importance is, we're having a head coach at a general manager that were, in the same, life cycle of their careers are ones not thinking 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 the club, sometimes the gems, on top and the head coach entities. Times. It's the other way round. We wanted to set it up where they were partners and they complement each other on what their respective skill set B and then we went out, and I didn't where we looked at all sports and thought of.
All right. What are they? What are the key attributes of a of a head coach at were looking for? What are the key personality traits in the key sort of skill sets the same thing at a GM we gave each candidate a list of ten skills of a headache, 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 by the way you have to be one. I attend on something you have to be tenor, tenants of right and it wasn't me answer so much that we cared about as like how they arrived at it and how they talked about it. Afterwards, Israelis, able to put their. 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 a conversation that they couldn't. They couldn't just the allow themselves to be bad at something, but the forty Niners events, did find someone who knew its own limitations
I'm always assuming are this bad things? but what we do to prepare ourselves- and that is, Carl Shanahan. How goes forty Niners Shanahan is only forty years old when the forty nine years, I had him- you'd, 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 I fell head coach MIKE Shanahan now grown up. I was wrong 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 Niners 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 to Gould not tell you when Kyle Shanahan was a kid. He would go for pizza at the pizza, Ria run by another kid Parag, Murat Day the man who would eventually higher Shanahan to coach of forty. Nine years later. Your homework 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 fell. Guns who were preparing to play in the Superbowl against renewing the Patriots, Parag, Marathi and Jed York, however, really wanted Shanna hands input on who they should higher as GM? Can you mean This can me with this guy like no I'm getting ready for a play? A game can ready for the super bowl, and so very stressful for me and then out. The blue Shanahan got a text from someone. A form NFL great. Who was now a football broadcaster and who was a huge fan of Kyle Shanahan?
draw is that he was one of those guys. There was one step ahead of the competition, and that is when it John Lynch. For years. I thought your actual firstly was hard hit. It seemed like big, never meant that getting damage Lynch retire as an NFL player in two thousand and eight and was now calling games for Fox. I haven't had a good career going in I cast world and they were great to me. Loved every second of it, but you miss competition. I did. I did you know everybody. I think at certain points it and ears in you, do self evaluation and sand gash, my life's really going well, I got a great family, I'm proud of my kids, get a great marriage, love and broad. I stand. But what's my will not raise our guy exactly, and there was always a butt, I was a little unfulfilling when Lynch heard the Kyle Shanahan had been offered. The fourteen countries had coaching job. He called to Caen
Joe Item and I have seen some the day before that he was struggling, finding someone he wanted to work with this general manager and I just kind of threw out there at the end of our conversation. I said I you know maybe react to it and he was very polite about it and he goes, but you already got a guy. Just don't even worry about it, but as soon as you know, I'd be very interested, and I when stairs and remember, tat. My parents, who know John, but that coached number well. I have to say- and, as I say, severe GM might as well. Do you think I don't like I think I really like that in took a lot of anxiety. Why? Because all Someone who loves football, whose smart and capable of doing it, and so on should work together with John.
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 an amazing presents you just u beer at your around them for half an hour, If you want to be a better version 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 nine, had their new leadership duo, an up and coming young coach and inspiring. First time GM now all I had to do was get the kind of players who could win them. Some football Games, like this guy song is on the Syfy. The services of another Thomas was
or an in Chicago than his family, moved to Australia for several years and then to Texas, whose big kid so naturally in Texas from like. Why are you playing football arm? I rode on the four boys 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 eventually recruited to play at Stanford. If you ve begun to think there's a bit Stanford Mafia within forty knives 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, whose progress damage in my country will start joy hard hitting John Lynch now in 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 sometime, As I told you, I'm sure my enemies. I visit your former classmate John, the hemorrhage Shanahan called you John humbly first said Athos me and then Pretty safe Thomas was one of the key young players, the forty nine hours were rebuilding their defence around the often meanwhile that was Kyle, Shanahan Specialty the orphans needed even more help specially quarterback 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 their part. The level need it mean if you the aim of sea I think the last seventeen nineteen years- it's basically been three quarterbacks. That's forty! Nine president out It again talking about quarterbacks who led their team to Superbowl win, says Tom Brady,
pain, marrying Ben rather's, Burgers Franklin, a few Joe flak goes and that's it with common capron gone the forty Niners best quarterback options were see, J, battered and Brian Hoeyer, neither of whom, a good options, but Shanahan and John Lynch and the whole organization knew it be hard work to turn things around and does anything Kyle, Shannon is really really really good at its working hard during the season you know, Monday's museum. I've, thirty everyday. I leave Monday at eleven on it, 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, I'm in at five hundred and thirty we'll use your tree. Somewhere or we have meetings and walks walkthrough over two hours and go to the hotel. You, the
The team hotel in everyone does and then on Sundays but the stadium very early in the morning. You hear these 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 is always like. Does it really have be that, like labour, you don't know the game or care about it and they Wait a minute. You're football coach lie. You need to be Workin eighteen hour, I dont. What are you doing? This On Monday, I as I had coercion and need a watchdog for myself, which is often society deepens. Aside special teams rewind vast board. Silent copying, zoologists three closer for your 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 certain close the team from headquarters standpoint than they ve anyways. It takes all Monday takes all Monday and now,
we got a star watching I'm Seattle. We play the next Sunday, several minutes. Shanahan describes in exhausting detail the rest of the week. The capacity for me tonight, don't we teach the run game from nine to ten than our special teams. Coach 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 practice now before tomorrow we gotta go study. Third downloader study shore Yardage goal. I gotta draw out the plan, put him on car target practice tomorrow. We'll need a result 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. Work on either side the ball If that doesn't work could be a her quarterback to be a touchdown acme, the reason telling her second a daughter that she's Moby 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 then anybody ever tried, isn't it but you said you know, work, maybe all those hours it we're working. If we slept more we'd be sharper and try to make up for that. Weighs anybody ever tried of totally different approaches torn and those are known, we're coaching at Levis. You would never another name for they don't last long, and I mean it's, it's okay, if we're tired and we barely confunction, I hope we 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 green honours turn around effort when your wife,
here's radio all day she read stuff. She, you get home and are ones been saying that their husbands so bashing than alive, but then believe it or not something magical it's not like Jimmy was the save right. It's the whole team. That's coming right up and if you want to hear the bull, unlimited 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 did your premium dot com, flash economics and use a promo code economics get one month bring four
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in September of two thousand seventeen the year before we first put out this episode: the iconic San Francisco. Forty Niners franchise was ready for the renaissance. They had the new coach, you general manager, many new players, a gorgeous 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 find this team will be fine, it's in good hands with John Lynch, without giving it their young and do they're going to get better to season goes on, but things didn't get better we and others lost again and again.
Again and again, six street losses to open the season. Amazingly, the last five for all by three points or less. Amid that's hard on ahead, Ouch John Lynch, the Ricky General manager, was worried about his rookie head coach house. Anyone then I think, a big part of my job, the first year was being a psychologist to him waited your whole life to do this now of sudden and a historic fashion when we lost five games by three points. Are less never been done in this Leah? How she interpret those five close losses. Were the two thousand seventeen San Francisco fourteen on your still catastrophically bad, or were they really close to turning the corner? Then few games 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 they're supposed to turn around season. Oh nine. This affected everyone in the building and their families, including Al Guido,
nine year old daughter, so the kids will either make fun of my daughter right or if she wears a for nine to study for nine stink. You know what your dad doing type of thing when you lose a game, a lot of noise happen. It's coach Shanahan again just wrong media members and talk show host, but from family members from anybody used. Tat happens, usually threes like Armageddon, try, nine It happens to wear when your way here's radio all day she read stuff. She then she get home and I once been saying that their husbands sucks defensive, end Solomon, Thomas and here's, the linebacker Malcolm's, that to another wife and that's how teams get torn apart. I've never lost so many games, or lay in the season I'm over. Maybe my career. I was different, that was defensive, end Solomon, Thomas and here's the and backer. Malcolm Psmith knows miserable,
when I actually wasn't Blancos on into reserve 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 juice daily, the offensive I mean who sings he was hurt that season Stanley played through it didn't miss a game, but he started talking about quitting when the season was over. I was in a year eleven, my six thirty coach swearer. I think at this time, on seven and was here: I am collapse of weakness there, where I was just the adversity, Canna gotten definitely super frustrating not how we expected things to start. That is the full back Kyle use check, but you surprise. Just how positive thing state around here is pretty incredible. Use check who played his college football at Harvard was also her. In third game in the season. He got a concussion. So
your plan, the Lay Rand's and we're on the goal line and smack with their linebacker and tat a really. It was really weird. It was almost like, like a pal liked is bringing I thought: I'm feeling like a tuning fork, I'm pretty sure, but it I'm sin and the huddled MIKE I'm definitely master by like Do I sit down and my way the train, or do I look run this next play and then I'll figure it out after that work. Happens so quickly. I stayed in the next play and it was the worst decision same thing ran into the linebacker and that one dino finally put me out where I was in unconscious for a second, then headed. You know what get taken in by the trainers- and I, like I said
You regret it sounds like you regret. The designer play death, a high social taken myself orbit things happen so quickly learned. How much effort is also Justino macho there is limited. I didn't care which is stupid. Kazoo shouldn't be that's changing. Their gather and needed urgently 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 think eyes or certain 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 use trick, was recuperating from his concussion, the forty nine your season kept getting worse and yet Kyle Shanahan managed to keep his bow and 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,
you know every week I'll pull up Sinclair Mr show like we're 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 the game than they call. You show you. This is the block. You missed the devil exit, happily been a part of that too, but I, us feeling it's more of a kind of a new age. Thinking of this more positive feedback- and I know definitely resonates with me. You know I've never gotten much from a cautious just scream at me and tell me how terrible I am I just doesn't work for me colony, say knew each other like we can go in there and profit and throw Waterfall general manager, John Wench again, but those guys who outstanding attitude each day here's Kyle Shanahan we took
or two and fourteen team. We know we had a long way to work. We can expect to be or nine Borg and to keep working on, not reinvent the wheel, and we heard from every 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. Did a good job as my first. Situation in Every situations different living people act like there's like or something to handle situation. You gotta just what the situation is, and you don't know that till you're in it big reason, the forty nine hours were in that situation, is that they didn't have a quality, quarterback and as China has told us 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 their part the level needed, but member in the
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 players from college. We were oh nine, I knew we're gonna be in a position to have a high traffic alot a quarter backward without that we knew we're gonna 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'll study them at a college. I studied the heck out him coming out of college. He was one of the guys who kept showing up on Kyle's teach tapes and terms of the quick release the accuracy of the trade you're. Looking for and quarterbacks, this quarterback was in his 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
the 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 lady expendable here's, forty Niners owner Jed York. You know it's hardest just to see into somebody else's building and know where they are and what they're doing. But when Tom, Brady and Tom says he wants to play another four or five years. That's a very, very difficult! decision to make for the patriots I Shanahan and Lynch how surprised they were to learn that a quarter back they coveted had suddenly become avail. Over trade. I was surprised just cuz. We checked earlier in the year. He wasn't then, and then it happened just a day or two days for the trade deadline. You know we called the patriots about ennui, we got shut down right. They were not interested and get rid of a monotonous blame on something Jane We were the beneficiary that panda peep Kaji.
That's it! You gotta go we're 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. Hundred tax measures, tottered miss cause. How long will you wasn't? No lawyer growth through so many emotions? Initially, you know what's going on and are better situation me or, and so your motions are gone wild. But next thing I knew I was a foreigner and I address this history. Great blue wasn't expected to play right away, maybe not even until next season, he had to leave in the forty nine is 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 this
the forty nine. Finally, one behind quarterback see J bettered but the following week. They were getting beaten badly and then bettered got hurt. There was no way to solve the victory Shanahan sent Europe low in any way we're walking off the field in the crowds like, She thought cheering and rediscover alone out and are like fans were cited. Ok, so now the forty Niners are one and ten in the next game garage below its first by the forty nine hours beat, the Chicago bears. Fifteen fourteen years, Solomon Thomas, I was just about one felt so good, and some of you want it for granted that we always want to keep feeling the next game. Jimmy grapple a past for three
two hundred and thirty four yards and forty there's one again and began alone. Jimmy came in with an incredible the movie. The teams wound is pretty special with the rapid leading the way the samples affording honours one five three games, including three against play off bound teams. They finished the season. At six into San Francisco. What are the odds of a team losing their first nine games. And then winning their last five. You can't count that high it's not Jimmy, was the saviour right. It's the whole team, Parag Murat taken and every single player played better had more confidence and and saw
the combination 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 here for our two marsh surface, where we did, Jimmy coming and really meant to use different for us, and I use check I think it really gotta give Jimmy Alot of credit, I'm here serious time after practice, with the coaches by himself I may use here all night trying to learn this playbook and Jed York. The owner, I mean it was very we're that Jimmy was a guy that you took everybody's tension on the field like the guy's gravitated towards him and he's. Natural leader as a reward Jimmy garage below having sat on the.
Bench for four seasons in New England and then started a grand total of five games for San Francisco grapple O 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 got through my thing in all the outside noises is noise. You did 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 and on the players. I years some combination of lake. Why I hated all end Superman and Jesus Christ, like people just gather around you and love, you, moreover yeah. I think I've never really try. A fake area, be someone that I'm not good guys, I mean, especially in a locker and right through the other, not done so yourself. I don't know, I don't know. I've always thought myself want the guys, and I think that plays a big partner
it had been a bizarre season for the forty. Nine is the deepest gloom. Placed almost overnight, but the brightest futures, but now it is a question. What exactly are the San Francisco? Forty minors? Are they best six and ten team in history. The team that one there last five games or Are they well a six and ten team teams that 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 would have this year when we visited the forty nine hours before the two thousand eight teen season, I'd ask York and everyone else to predict how the team would finish that year. Their answers were to me at least remarkable and the public sector
about what kind of mindset you need to run a team in the mindset of a working athlete. Here's how the executives work, Guido, Lynch and Marathi answered when I asked about their expectations. Me. You never know what's gonna happen and in an annabel season, but is it really getting better each and every game I don't have any, nations on Windsor losses? I want to put a number on it that we continue to stand the path like if we if we were still building toward something and it didn't necessarily lead to win. That's ok! We're 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 it agree on anything. But noncommittal here? In order? Are Solomon Thomas Kyle Use Check Malcolm Smith in Jos, daily? You know those sir. They still wanted on our side. We we have the potential to do. I got highest
issues I spoke to win? I think you can do We feel that things feel a lot different than they did last year The ultimate success be in, I always think of it, as a of we also spoke with the we also his place: Kicker Robbie gold, one of the most accurate and productive pickers in the modern NFL he's been in the league since two thousand five most of those years with the Chicago bears he's grateful for his longevity and realistic about his future can be here to be here gone the next to me. I got in Chicago labor day weekend after making a team and then the next day out high higher. Your hopes for this year obviously ended last year. Amazingly. Well, I think the expectations and large room in the fuel and the virus, is pretty high. You think tank and win ten when a servant. I think this is a matter of how bad you want
I am here to won t shirt. Have I'm here to win a technique 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 that trophy is now one game away. As we told you at the top of this update the two thousand eighty, season, didn't work out so well for the Niners they one just for games, but they stuck to their game plan, which meant having faith in John Lynch in Kyle Shanahan ability to bring in good talent and coach up that talent more aggressively more creatively more successfully than other teams. Their top to draft takes this year. Nick Bosa Debo Samuel Rate, rookie seasons. They traded forward the veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and started, relying on a little known running back named rocky most her, who had failed to catch on with six other and it fell teams.
The forty nine or started this season with eight street wins, but then they lost a few had to wonder if this relatively young team would hold up under play off pressure. They did first be the Minnesota Vikings, then crushing the Green Bay Packers in the Annex II championship game against them. Workers. The previously unwanted Rahim boaster ran for four touchdowns now come to consider chiefs in the Superman If the forty minors win it the champions once again, and even if they don't it'll, be hard to call them losers anymore. Coming up next time on for economics, radio the twenty twenty presidential election, is officially under way? So it's time to ask a question You ve been asking in these parts for a while. Now. How much does the president of the United,
It's really matter is the so called leader of the free world as almighty as we tend to think. We speak with a law professor who studies presidential Power LAW, professor, who daddy's constitutional ism and a former White House chief economist. We talk about the relative power, the government's three branches, the evolution of the presidency itself. And yes, we talk about Donald Trump wanting prisonment trump can rightly claim some credit. Now I do think he's unfair of alma, I think, did aggrandize executive power. To some extent, we also ask our experts to rank the president's power in a variety of areas on a scale of one to ten. I would give the seven two or three roughly the same, an episode,
certain to make your head explode matter which side of the iron you happen to live on its next time on Freakonomics radio Economics, radio is produced by stitcher and governor productions. This episode was produced by Anders Kelto help from Derek John special thanks to all the forty nine years and especially Bob Lang, their VP of communications. If you want to hear the food Interviews with the forty Niners featured in this episode, those are available on sticker premium if economic, Radio staff includes Alison Craig little red ribbon, picky, daffy, transact weapons Harry Huggins, incurring Wallace our theme song is MR fortune by the hitchhikers. All the other music was composed by. There are few, can get for economics, radio on any podcast app. If you want the entire back catalogue, use a stitch up or go to free economics, dot com, we also publish transcripts
We can be found on all the usual social media channels. The best way to reach is directly is be email. Radio at for economics, outcome, economics, radio,. Who plays many NPR station, so check your local listings. Thanks for listening, Teacher.
Transcript generated on 2020-04-03.