We’ve been posting some answers John Lynch had in his first KNBR interview on Murph & Mac as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. I just went in and transcribed the whole thing. There’s a lot of good information to pick out, a lot of it that hasn’t been mentioned or brought into the limelight yet.
Given the length of the interview (almost 27 minutes), I omitted most of the questions having little to do with football and focused on the aforementioned sport and the 49ers.
On both Bill Walsh and Ronnie Lott’s role in his football career.
You take it back even a step further. I played high school football at Torrey Pines High School down here. I was a football and baseball player here. Denny Green recruited me to Stanford. When I was in his first class at Stanford, I was a quarterback, a highly recruited quarterback. I was the number 2 quarterback the day I walked on campus and it never worked out. I thought I won the job going into my junior year, I didn’t. I went in there to Denny Green thought about transferring, thought about leaving, thought about just playing baseball. I walked out a safety.
Junior year, things went ok, but I only played probably 40 percent of the snaps. Next year, Bill Walsh gets the job, and I’m playing minor league baseball by now, mind you, and just decided ‘ok that’s just the path I was going going.’
Bill Walsh called me up one day and said— I hadn’t signed my contract, I had been drafted—and said, “hey I want you to come down and see me.” I went down and had a meeting with him.
That day he told me not only could I play in the NFL, he thought I could be a Pro Bowl safety. Now I’m listening to arguably the coach of all time, but i played 30 percent of the snaps, I wasn’t even good enough to start.
I said, “You’re either a heck of a salesmen or you know something I don’t know”.
He proceeded to talk me into why, and you know like Bill always has attention to detail. He didn’t just tell me, he had tape. Showing me plays I made my junior year, and then show a clip of Ronnie. Show a play I made and show a clip of Ronnie. Tom Holmoe was our DB coach that year. Keena Turner was on the staff, Ronnie was just always around. I remember looking over to the side, you know where that Chuck Taylor field is at Stanford, and there’s a little dirt road past sunken diamond and Ronnie and Joe would be on a Mercedes on the hood of a car watching. Ronnie would come out and some of the things he told me then are the things I tried to do my whole career at the safety position. Those memories are strong, they really influenced the path of where I am today, and I’ll be forever thankful to those guys.
On a report that if he didn’t call the Falcons/Seahawks game this job wouldn’t have happened:
I think that columnist is very astute because the answer is probably no. That's just the reality of it. That’s life really. I think of that meeting with Bill Walsh, would I have played for the marlins if Bill Walsh not called me? I kinda always lived my life by that. I can tell you though, while that’s probably a true statement. It’s not as random as that.
Kyle’s a guy I’ve admired for a long time. I played for his father, I’ve known Kyle for a long time. I’ve been doing this for eight years for FOX as an analyst. One of those things as an analyst, you’re invited into these facilities. You meet with coaches, you hang around owners and GMs, everyone wants to tell you about their team. Kyle’s a guy I said ‘listen I know who his dad is, I want to see who this guy is’ and I’ve seen him developed as he moved on to Tampa or from Tampa to Houston and onto Washington. I saw the work he did with RGIII and devising their offense. I’ve just had a great deal of respect for him. Cleveland, when he was there, Fox sent us a couple times, I’ll never forget, they pulled us off of a Aaron Rodgers/Green Bay Packers game to go see the next coming of Johnny Manziel. I was like, “Really? You’re sending me to Cleveland? I’m dropping Aaron Rodgers for Johnny Manziel?” But we did that, the point I’m trying to make is I’ve been around Kyle a lot and grown to really respect his acumen.
Fast forward, we did a bunch of Falcons, can’t tell you how many, probably four or five Falcons games this year. I thought far and away, he was the catch of this coaching class, of guys that are out there. I’m speaking as an analyst now, just as guy who analyses football. And so I did that game and as often as we do followed up after. We were talking ball and congratulating him on a great plan.
This job, we’ll see I’ve got to pump the breaks. I can’t talk about Kyle as our head coach. I can talk about that interaction, and Kyle and I just got to talking. At some point he’s running coaches by me, assistant coaches, the conversation came up. “You know, Kyle five years ago, the Broncos talked to me about a role. John Elway brought me in for an offseason to see if it was something I’d like. Of late, there’s been some perspective owners in the que, they’ve identified me, they’ve talked. I’ve always said in the right situation, I would think about this. I think 30 minutes later he calls me back and I can’t stop thinking about this, I’m so pumped up when you consider. Next thing you know, I’m talking to Jed York.
That’s the genesis of it, I won’t hide from that. That is how it came to be and here we are.
On the negative reputation Jed York and Paraag Marathe have:
I’m aware of (the negativity) just from being a football fan. As an analyst, you have to stay up on the whole league. So, yes, I’ve seen some negativity. I can tell you my experience being around this league, 15 years as a player, eight-plus as a broadcaster, that’s the reality. When you aren’t winning, there’s going to be negativity. I do know that exists. It is something that I addressed. This thing moved and it moved in a hurry.
One of the, I think one of the great and liberating things for me and why this came to liberation is: I made a big deal that this stayed quiet. First of all, you know what I was doing? Part of the rumors are things fly out of that building. So I wanted to see, could I trust this building, you know? And, so that was part of my thinking.Part of it was, I have a family, I have 4 kids, I have a very good job—I need to start speaking in past tense—I had a very good job with FOX, that I was happy with. Do you want to rock the boat? This is something I’ve always thought of, but do you want to rock the boat? If I was going to engage in these conversation, we can’t beat around the bush We gotta get right to: ‘Do I want to work for these people?’
I can tell you what I found, my interaction with Jed York, he’s a guy that all he wants to do is win.He’s tired of some strife and some contention in the building. He wants harmony. He wants to give us the resources. He wants to be a support mechanism, but he wants to get out of the way and let us work. And, to me, that’s an awesome deal. and I understand, just from being around it, being a football fan, from being up there at Stanford and playing for Bill, from being around Ronnie and feeling his presence, Keena Turner and Bill Ring were on that staff. I just get what dawned upon me. This isn’t a normal franchise, this is one of the iconic franchises in football. The opportunity to restore that to its glory and to work really hard to do that. That just got me.
Again, things progressed quickly. At the end of the day I said, “you know what? It’s a big challenge.” Are there skeptics? Absolutely. Should there be skeptics? Absolutely. I understand that. And I understand the only way we change those skeptical thoughts from people is to win. That’s what this league is all about. I won’t make any promises as to when that will happen, but I can tell you we’re going to work our tail off and I’m going to surround myself with great people that can fill some of my deficiencies. That started out with Peters who’s a home run hire for us. We’re full speed ahead already.
On working with Paarag Marathe:
Look, Paraag was part of the interview process. One thing that I think has always been a strength of mine, and I credit my parents, is they’ve always taught me, you’ve gotta know your history, you’ve gotta study. If I’m going to sit down with a prospective coach, I’ve gotta know his history. But I gotta make my own judgment. And I’ve always tried to do that.
I can tell you this, in my short time being around him, I think that Paraag is an unbelievable asset to me and to this organization. I understand that, somehow the narrative has been out there that he meddled, and all those things. All I know, for instance, one of my challenges early on is negotiating contracts. I haven’t done that a lot throughout my career, other than my own deals. Well, from what I understand, he’s one of the best in the league at it. So am I gonna lean on him for that? Absolutely. Are we gonna put some other people around? We’re working hard to do that.
People talk a lot about analytics and what role they play in football. I wanna explore that. I don’t think it’s gonna be a big part of what we do, but I think to ignore it would be foolish. Anything that can help us get better, I’m gonna embrace. So, that’s where we are. I can tell you thus far he has been a tremendous resource. And were those things discussed? Yes, they were, and I feel very good about it. I can just tell people that.
On how it looks like he’s more of an overseer/president of football ops vs general manager:
I was part of an organization in Tampa. We started in 1993, I did and we were the worst franchise in all of sports. We progressed to 2002 where we won a world championship.
Often people would say, “Who were, who was the leader on that team? Who was it?”
We put together a great team. I think it takes a lot of people. I want to be clear, when I was talking about contracts, I’m going to be involved in that. I was on the phone yesterday doing some of that, but I’m going to use Paarag as a resource. I’m going to do whatever it takes along with my head coach, along with the team we build, to put together a winner.
Frankly, we’re putting together roles right now. We’re figuring all these things out. I thought it was critical I knew a guy like Adam Peters who’s 37, but you look at his experience. I’ve talked to people in the New England organization, I know how much they value him. Josh McDaniels valued him so much, he brought him to Denver. Denver valued him incredibly. I have a good relationship with John Elway, John Elway respects immensely Adam Peters. So he gave him an opportunity for a big promotion for him.
So those are the kind of things we’re going to do once we get our head coach on-board. We’re going to work tirelessly just to be on the same page so we can go to our scouts and say, “This is what we’re looking for”. It’s full speed ahead.
On if he’ll relocate to San Francisco:
Yeah we are. I don’t know where, but we are. My kids are going to finish this school year, I think that’s only right. We’re figuring other things out. Jake (Lynch’s oldest son) may stay down to play his senior year. Kind of hard to leave your school when you’re defending a state championship. Those are the challenges, but I got buy-in from my family. We’re making a commitment, we’ll be up there, so we’re excited about that as well.
On a Moose Johnson saying the reason Lynch would go from a comfortable TV job back to the front office is because “winning and losing and football is a drug we all miss”:
I would say Moose knows me well. Of course, I’ll tell ya, I loved my time as a broadcaster. Any broadcaster that played or coach will say the one thing that’s unfulfilling is there is no scoreboard. Your bosses can tell you how you did, you can give fist pumps to your partners, but when you’re used to scoreboards and winning and losing, that void is always there. I always got in a good frame of mind by saying, “I love the game of football, I’m paying a great service to it by bringing knowledge to the masses and telling people what it’s really all about.” That’s how I kind of substituted that and the frame of mind I approach, but at some point you’re just fooling yourself.
You always love to get back in it, sure that’s there. I always said it was going to take the right opportunity. It wasn’t something I was actively seeking. This thing just kind of came about. I’m thrilled, I really am, I look forward to it. I would just finish with what I said earlier; people are going to be positive, there’s people that are going to be skeptical and I understand that and I’m fully aware of that, I embrace it. I just tell people watch the moves we make. of course we’ll make some mistakes along the way, but we’ll make you proud of the players that we build this team around.
I think it’s important to be invested in this community, learned a lot of that with Tony Dungy. His first meeting he ever had with us he said, “Look, our job is to win world championships, but if that’s all we’ve done at the end of our time together, we won’t have done enough”. I’ve been around a lot of people who live that. I know what a special community that is. We want to be a part of it, we want to be proud, and I can give my commitment we are going to leave no stone unturned to try to get people who can represent the organization in everything we do being single-minded to win world championships and to make the community proud of the guys we have. That’s the one thing I will promise.