SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With his team ever closer to getting back to the NFL's mountaintop, San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York took some time Friday to reflect on the series of events that helped his once-moribund franchise return to prominence.
"I made an Andy Dufresne reference earlier: everybody wants to get to that beach at the end," York said. "No one wants to go through what he went through to get to the beach. And we had to get through that."
Indeed, like Tim Robbins' character in "The Shawshank Redemption," the Niners had to crawl through their share of muck in recent seasons. Before this 13-3, NFC West Division and NFC Championship season, the Niners and their fans went through a four-year span in which only the Cleveland Browns had a worse record.
Now, they are headed to the beach: South Beach, to be exact, as the team is set to leave Sunday for Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs.
York wants to be sure that those who waded into that muck with him will be there to see the Niners attempt to regain football's ultimate prize for the first time in 25 years.
That's why York and the Niners' ownership group is taking the franchise's entire staff to Miami for the big game. York did not confirm an estimated total traveling party (with guests) will be in excess of about 1,500 people, but he did acknowledge it will be a large group.
"We're taking a lot of people," York said. "We wanted to make sure our entire staff had the opportunity to go. From everybody from Kyle and John all the way down to interns, everybody has played a part in this. We want to make sure that they're there to help and also celebrate the moment but hopefully help us get over the hump."
Upon their return to Miami, the 49ers will be looking for their first Super Bowl title since beating the then-San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, a game that was also played in South Florida.
Asked whether he has spent much time thinking about all the bad times that have led to the return of the good times, York joked that it hasn't exactly been at the front of his mind.
"I try to think every day about banners flying over the stadium for me to step down from the team," York said, laughing. "That's always my favorite experience about the 49ers."
Jokes aside, York is joining the team in focusing solely on the task at hand and not doing much reminiscing leading up to the game.
"I am just focused on what we have to do," York said. "I'm appreciative of our fans, especially the 40-50 thousand who were here in not the best times and even those fans, you can tell their passion, their spirit for the team. I think it was awesome to really see that re-awoken this year. ... Being in the Super Bowl seven years ago doesn't seem that long, except for the kind of deep valley that we went into between. But I'm so appreciative of them and happy for them that they get to see the team getting back to the Super Bowl."