49ers Have, for now, Passed on Dysfunction Torch
How quickly things change.
For the last three years, the 49ers have been the NFL's standard-bearers for dysfunction. A franchise seemingly doing its best to tear itself apart at every step.
From the internal squabbling between front office and Jim Harbaugh and the eventual firing of the most successful 49ers head coach of the 21st century, to the farcical hiring of Jim Tosmula, the string of off-field incidents involving players and the 2015 rash of retirements - the Niners have been, along with the Cleveland Browns, the example of how not to do things in the NFL.
But by hitting a home run -- or striking it lucky depending on who you talk to -- in hiring one of the best offensive minds in the game in Kyle Shanahan as head coach as well as John Lynch as general manager, Jed York appears to have helped restore stability to the franchise.
Working in tandem to attract a plethora of free agents and engineer a 2017 draft for which they received widespread praise, Lynch and Shanahan have provided the 49ers with some much-needed direction.
And the torch for dysfunction has seemingly been passed, with the Washington Redskins perhaps unsurprisingly becoming the league's leading organizational mess.
Having controversially fired GM Scot McCloughan, Washington appears poised to lose quarterback Kirk Cousins -- most likely to the 49ers -- after failing to agree a long-term deal before the deadline for franchise players following a low-ball offer of $53million guaranteed, which is what he will make over the next two seasons anyway if he plays under the transition tag in 2018.
Washington's explanation of the negotiating process with Cousins was interpreted by many as a criticism of his greed, though the player himself, per NFL.com, insisted he does not feel that way, with the continuing saga only serving to further damage the image of the franchise.
However, Washington is not alone in enduring something of a tumultuous offseason. The Kansas City Chiefs let a highly rated personnel man in Chris Ballard walk, only to then fire GM John Dorsey after the draft. The Carolina Panthers made a similar move by this week firing GM Dave Gettleman having previously allowed Brandon Beane to take up the same role with the Buffalo Bills.
With both decisions, the timing has seemed off. And, though the Chiefs moved quickly to appoint an in-house candidate in Brett Veach, the Panthers situation seems set to get more confusing, with Marty Hurney -- whose draft misses prompted Gettleman's arrival -- reportedly poised to take over as interim GM in another eyebrow-raising decision.
San Francisco fans should be wary not to take any joy in the misfortune of Washington or Panthers fans, the Niners are in a honeymoon period with their new regime, but anyone who has paid attention to this franchise knows things could turn sour extremely quickly.
But, when casting an eye towards the goings-on in Washington and Carolina, those who follow the 49ers can at least afford a wry smile. The Niners are a long way from being the league's gold standard but, for now at least, they are not the first team that should be associated with dysfunction.