Cross thinks 49ers need 'at least five or six years' to rebuild


Three-time Super Bowl winner Randy Cross says the San Francisco 49ers face a lengthy wait for a return to success.

The former Niners offensive lineman, now an NFL analyst, weighed in on the troubling situation in San Francisco under CEO Jed York during an appearance on Sirius XM NFL radio, saying he believes the franchise has a long road ahead of them to get back to the top.

Cross, who won his three Super Bowls with the Niners from 1976 to 1988, believes the decline began when the team mutually agreed to part ways with coach Jim Harbaugh in December 2014.

Following eight straight seasons from 2003 to 2010 without a playoff appearance, Harbaugh turned the Niners around and guided them to two NFC championship games and an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII in 2012 before falling to an 8-8 record in his final season in San Francisco.

Cross said: "Well, I think when his [Jed York's] dad was running the team, Dr. John York, he just couldn't do things right, and got stuck in a cycle of doing things wrong. And I think it just demanded a change, and I think that's what got Jed involved.

"I'm not sure, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not sure if they can recover from that decision to get rid of Harbaugh, which brought on the wave of talent going away, some guys just walking away, others choosing to go somewhere else in free agency.

"The drain out of the building is something, from a talent standpoint, from a mentality standpoint, from a football knowledge standpoint, that's gonna take them, best-case scenario, at least five or six years to replace.

"Line of scrimmage, quarterback, head coach, everything about it. I wish him the best of luck. I think the league's a lot better when ... the California teams and the Bay Area teams are relevant. But, I look at that place right now as being in pretty dire straits when it comes to what's going to happen."

Harbaugh's replacement, Jim Tomsula, could not solve the team's problems and was fired after they finished with a disastrous 5-11 record this season.

Now, Chip Kelly will take the reins and try to incorporate the explosive offensive system that resulted in huge success at the college level during his tenure as head coach at Oregon. It has yet to be determined if quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be a component of that offensive system.