Jed's role

While the 49ers slowly sort out their new organizational structure, a lot has been made of what role Jed York - the 23-year-old son of owner John York - will have with the franchise. Jed York has been an increasingly visible figure on the 49ers scene the past two months, and that's a trend that will continue now that there are plans for him to move to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jed York, a 2003 graduate of Notre Dame - his father's alma mater - hardly is a power figure in the organization yet, and both father and son dispelled any notions that he could be in line for a general manager or team president sort of role in the future.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have received permission to interview two candidates to fill the void in the organization left by deposed general manager Terry Donahue. Denver's Rick Smith and Jacksonville's Charles Bailey, both of whom hold the title director of pro personnel with their respective clubs, will interview with the 49ers this week.

The younger York currently works for a financial firm in New York City, and his background is in finance, an area he likely will continue in if and when he joins the 49ers' front office.

But one thing appears certain: He is joining the team in some capacity, and it could happen this year.

"Jed is involved, he'll be involved," John York said. "He is very, very interested in the 49ers. He pays very close attention, as all my other kids do. Jed, as well as (wife) Denise and the rest of my children, are all passionate 49ers fans and they want the organization to do well. They know everything that is going on in the organization. Jed has been assisting on things when he has free time. At some point, Jed probably first (of York's children), will be involved in the organization."

That point seems to have been accelerated since Dennis Erickson was fired Jan. 5. Though he was not involved in the day-long interview sessions that followed, Jed York joined his father for informal three-hour dinners with the five candidates the 49ers met with before the team decided on Mike Nolan as its next head coach.

The younger York obviously had some input on each candidate and has his father's ear. He also made an impression on Nolan, who - during his introductory news conference - made a point to mention the interaction between the Yorks that he had witnessed during his dinner with father and son.

"When you sit in a room for three hours the night before and talk with an owner … I think it was a real benefit that his son Jed was there," Nolan said. "Because him being there and seeing how (York) interacts with his own son, I have a son also and that is an important thing. You can see relationship. You can see communication. You can see what is important to the man. That was important to me."

It also was important to John York, who said about the week of interviews, "I learned about my son Jed."

It appears Jed York is destined for a position of importance with the organization, and that could begin by next season in a scenario that sees him leaving New York and coming west to attend graduate school.

"He's probably coming out here, I'm not sure when, in the next year or so," York said. "My guess is that he'll just rotate throughout the office. I know that he wants to go to graduate school. So my guess is that he'll come out here and try to go to Cal or Stanford, and then he will be assimilated into the organization."

Not that it qualifies him in any way to be involved with the organization's front office, but John York said Jed has been closely connected to the 49ers since he could barely walk, even though the Yorks didn't take control of the team until 1999.

York's brother-in-law is former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, who lost the team to his sister and York in a division of DeBartolo Corp. assets that year.

Jed grew up around his uncle's team, just like all the Yorks did, and John York told a story about how the 49ers became ingrained in young Jed's life.

"I had absolutely no idea I would ever be involved with the National Football League," York said. "But (growing up) and watching all the teams play, the team that attracted me the most was John Brodie and his passing and so I became a San Francisco 49ers fan long before I knew any of this. And they stayed a team that I've always been close to during the entire time that Mr. Debartolo Sr. bought the team and Eddie was in charge of the team."

Jed was just as close.

"I can remember a picture of Jed holding his grandfather's hand at age 3 watching a 49er game on TV," York said. "I can remember at age 5, Jed sitting on Jennifer Montana's lap watching a game when we played in Cleveland. Jed has been involved with this. He knows more about the 49ers than I ever will."

And he's about to become involved even more. But - since Jed has no background in football operations - the elder York said his involvement is unlikely to be in football operations, which should make a lot of 49ers followers breathe easy for now.

"There are no firm plans on what his role is going to be," York said. "I'm sure it will be more on the business side than on the football side."

Niners Digest Top Stories