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Volume 20 No. 42
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Forty Under 40

By Silicon Valley standards, one might ask Jed York what took him so long to succeed. After all, it took him until he was in his 30s to fully take over the San Francisco 49ers, orchestrate the first new football stadium project in California in four decades and get the club within 5 yards of a Super Bowl victory.

Of course, by NFL measurements, York’s ascendancy is nothing short of astonishing. In a league where heirs have a tall task measuring up — whether the name is Rooney, Kraft, Benson or Hunt — Jed York is one of the few to quickly take over and almost immediately improve the product.

York, son of 49ers Co-Chairmen John and Denise York, has made full use of Silicon Valley, hiring from Facebook to staff up for the scheduled 2014 opening of the team’s new stadium in Santa Clara. The venue is expected to be a technological showcase.

York has been bold in other areas as well, including hiring a college coach to run the team (Jim Harbaugh), watching his franchise switch quarterbacks midseason, assuming nearly a billion dollars of debt responsibility to build the stadium, and working the roster to give the team an increased number of coming draft picks.

Maybe it’s the brashness of youth that makes it all possible, but York hardly carries himself that way. Confident yet not arrogant, York is quick to try to spread credit around his organization, looking to shift the glare of public attention off himself even though he ranks as the youngest franchise owner in the NFL.

Under his uncle, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., whom Jed has brought back into the 49ers family, ownership was front and center in the 49ers success story in the 1980s and 1990s. Under York, that public ownership visibility for the franchise might be less, but it’s clear that success is part of the story in San Francisco again.

— Daniel Kaplan

Age: 32
Title: CEO
ORGANIZATION: San Francisco 49ers
Education: University of Notre Dame
Career: Began career as a financial analyst for Guggenheim Partners in New York; joined the 49ers in 2005; named team president in December 2008