Five questions with Dr. York

"The truth of the matter is that the amount of the time I spend with the head coach talking about football isn't going to win us a single game. But there does need to be a relationship between the ownership of the team and the head coach. And it needs to be open and communicative, but not one that is lengthy or overbearing."

Q: Do you plan to maintain a relationship with your new head coach?

During the season, I want to talk to the head coach before the game and after the game. It doesn't mean that there is a specific time, or it has to be face-to-face, but we are going to talk and he's going to give me a little of the game plan and we're going to discuss that after the game. I recognize that the truth of the matter is that the amount of the time I spend with the head coach talking about football isn't going to win us a single game. But there does need to be a relationship between the ownership of the team and the head coach. And it needs to be open and communicative, but not one that is lengthy or overbearing.

Q: Do you feel a lot of pressure for your team to win in 2003?

We'll be judged that way. I don't think you can put any more pressure than what we feel ourselves and what Dennis has put on himself. Dennis wants to win. He wants to be here and he wants to win a World Championship. We put the pressure on ourselves and you guys will judge us.

Q: Can you talk about how you ultimately decided on Dennis Erickson as your new head coach?

Basically Terry (Donahue) set up a course of action at the very beginning. He said that it would not be the typical course of action. We were going to find out as much as we could about NFL coaches.  In order to do that, he had to spend a lot of time interviewing people, not just the candidates, but other coaches, players, and general managers about these people to get a list together. He had always intended to look at college coaches, but he needed to wait and let them finish their recruiting and go through that process.  So, the first focus was always on the NFL coaches. He went through that process and he interviewed a number of people. He got it down to three people. They all happened to be defensive coordinators. There was no intent to go defense vs. offense. I have never heard that. There has never been any intent that the candidate had to have previous head coaching experience. Dennis was asked to come to talk to us on (Feb. 8) and we met with him. Terry was very impressed. I could watch Terry during the interview become more and more interested in what Dennis was saying. What interested me was listening to him talk about his aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. I can always tell you that one of the things that is most interesting is when Bill Walsh talks about defense, not offense. He is really keyed in on it and he knows what he wants to have done and Dennis can do the same thing on both sides of the ball. When I interviewed with him alone, what was very interesting was that Dennis was actually interviewing me. He wanted to make sure that the coach had a relationship with his ownership. So, it was very interesting to hear him talk about that and it fit. I could just tell that there was a growing light between Dennis and Terry and Dennis and Bill and even more with me and Dennis.

Q: What are your feelings about Donahue's plan of action?

I learned an awful lot about Terry Donahue. When Terry has a plan together, it is a good plan whether it is hard or not. When he goes forward with a plan that is good, it doesn't make a difference of what is going on out here. He'll stick with it and stay with it. He only asked to make sure that he stayed in communication with me and asked for my support. That is what happened throughout the whole process.

Q: Would you do anything different now that you've gone through this process once?

No, I don't think so. It was a long process for football. I don't think it was a long process for the number of people that we interviewed and met. If you took this process to a public company looking for someone that was key in their organization, I think with the number of people we met, it probably would have taken someone three or four months.


Niners Digest Top Stories