Achilles’ heel

Forbes - - Thought Leaders -

The real mea­sure of Sny­der’s in­com­pe­tence is the team’s record un­der his own­er­ship. Since Sny­der bought the team in 1999, the fa­bled fran­chise has won only 42% of its games. Sny­der has run through eight head coaches while med­dling in player line­ups.

On the other side of the coun­try the pi­lots of the San Fran­cisco 49ers have leapt to the top of the worst-owner charts. The 49ers have won fve Su­per Bowls—only the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, with six, have won more—but none has been dur­ing the 15-year stretch of York-fam­ily own­er­ship. The Yorks (John, Denise and son Jed) fred the two most suc­cess­ful coaches they’ve had. One, Jim Har­baugh, took the 49ers from the abyss to the Su­per Bowl in two sea­sons. He led them to three con­sec­u­tive NFC cham­pi­onships. But CEO Jed York thought Har­baugh was too in­tense and let him go, af­ter frst try­ing to sab­o­tage the coach’s rep­u­ta­tion.

Har­baugh is now coach­ing at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan. As all but the Yorks could have pre­dicted, Har­baugh is turn­ing the Wolver­ines back into a win­ning team.

In 2005 the York-owned 49ers had the frst pick in the NFL draft. They de­clined Aaron Rodgers to take Alex Smith of Utah. Smith, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, is what NFL in­sid­ers call a “game man­ager.” That’s a quar­ter­back who doesn’t make many mis­takes but whose tal­ents are lim­ited. Smith is rated 20th out of 32 start­ing QBS in the NFL. Num­ber one is—you guessed it—rodgers, 31. If he stays healthy, Rodgers stands to be­come the best pro QB ever—bet­ter than Brady, Mon­tana and El­way.

Why did the 49ers not take Rodgers? The Yorks and their lackey gen­eral man­ager didn’t like the young QB’S at­ti­tude. Rodgers is ex­tremely smart and conf­dent. The Yorks don’t like smart and conf­dent. They didn’t like it in Har­baugh and didn’t like it in Rodgers.

I love sports, be­cause it’s such a high­stakes yet ul­ti­mately harm­less way to learn about char­ac­ter and man­age­ment. Great sports fran­chises and coaches can teach us a lot—as can the worst ones.

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