The mood felt electric. It honestly felt like an Apple product reveal. Kate Scott and Tim Ryan came out excited to mediate an event filled with Vets as well as the heads of the front office.
The State of the Franchise (1st annual?) Event started off as well as you could want. Jed, John Lynch and 49ers President Al Guido came out and had a fun discussion about the road to where we’re at now.
Jed came out saying his usual talking points, (we’re not where we want. We expected to compete for championships, etc) but Jed seemed relaxed. The frazzled and stressed nature seemed gone from his voice and his demeanor. Moderator Kate Scott brought up the idea of improving the experience for the fans , and Jed was quick to thank everyone for filling out the annoying surveys they send out. He mentioned the importance of having a team you can believe in. He talked about the amazing work of the media team, crafting pieces like the Foster/Thomas video, The Joe Show, and videos Jed himself watches all the time. Most importantly, Jed stressed the idea of home team advantage and making the stadium feel like a home stadium.
Al Guido then took center stage, talking about season ticket holder retention and how its the best in the league. Guido came out and almost has a southern drawl, “aw shucks” vibe to him and had the same relaxed vibe that Jed had. Guido then talked about the various themes they plan for the season, including an honoring to Dwight Clark against Dallas on October 22nd.
Then the attention turned to John Lynch. Lynch would be the Steve Jobs of this pseudo Apple event, and he got an honest to god standing ovation. Its clear now. The fans are buying into this team. The talk then turned to Solomon Thomas. They showed video put together of the call to him on draft day. Lynch being giddy talking about the potential of Thomas and what he’s accomplished. It really amped up the fans in attendance.
The second half of the event started like a wrestling match. General Manager John Lynch and New Head Coach Kyle Shanahan came out to their own entrance theme, “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” by Hotel. Even more apt is Shanahan saying Lynch is basically Captain America. They then premiered the “uncut” video of Shanahan Mic’d up at OTAs, which is about as amazing as you can guess. Paraag called Shanahan a players coach and this truly highlights it. He’s simultaneously one of the guys as well as a coach. An interesting mix I can’t say I’ve seen many people to compare to. There’s the usual questions that came out for Shanahan, but the clear fan favorite was Kyle spitting hot fire on his knowledge of Drake songs.
The coordinators came out and talked for about 10 minutes, but the comedic section came once the players came on stage. First was Hoyer and Garcon. They talked briefly about the free agent process and what it's like playing for Shanahan and what they hoped to accomplish this season. Then came the rookies. Reuben Foster, CJ Beathard, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Joe Williams came out.
If there is one thing to take away from this event, it's that it's clear they have a hell of a bond already and have some incredible chemistry. You'd think they'd been treated for 10 years or so. This is exactly the type of chemistry you want from the players at the center of a rebuild. There was some funny tidbits during a rapid fire Q&A: Reuben is considered the funniest of the freshman. Williams is the best dressed and at home in skinny jeans.
Once they were done the final segment commenced, with Navarro Bowman and Joe Staley tasked with ending it on a high note, and boy did they. Staley came out doing an excellent non-racist version of Hulk Hogan, and is going to think about a possible wrestler name (Big S was an option). They then talked about how detail-oriented the coaches are and how refreshing it is. It really feels like things are clicking between coaches and team. There's an energy that wasn't there last year. Overall this was an incredible way to drum up support from the fans and I truly hope this becomes a yearly celebration. A celebration of great minds, great fans, and hopefully, great football.