I was gone all day ... got home, poured a drink, and decided to check email and take a look at Niners happenings during the day. In particular, I found the Nuggets entertaining ... all the discussion about Lynch's hiring, whether that was appropriate or not, and how people feel about the whole thing. I have a viewpoint, but nobody is going to reread those Nuggets, so I won't bother to comment there; rather, I'll simply write this FanPost.
I found the whole GM/HC search process and end result fascinating. It certainly proved the old adage that it's better to be lucky than to be good or smart. Jed didn't make it happen, it just fell into his lap.
As usual, Jed started out with a worthy objective (looking for a partnership) but in typical fashion immediately screwed up the interview process by adopting a committee approach, which even included Paraag's right-hand guy, a middle-level manager (Brian Hampton) ... how incredibly inappropriate is that? No doubt Jed had Paraag participate in the interviews to prop him up, although I would think that the candidates would wonder why Paraag (and most certainly Hampton) was participating ... I can't imagine any other NFL owner or GM taking this committee approach. (During my 37-year business career I never experienced a committee-approach interview ... ever.)
I was actually surprised that Jed was able to get as many viable candidates to accept an interview as he was ... just proving that when one reaches the appropriate level it's important to get name recognition by accepting interview opportunities, although some guys (Ballard and Caserio) refused, apparently having no interest in this particular position or employer. Then, not surprisingly, candidates began withdrawing (amazing how inappropriate leaks can have that effect) ... ultimately leaving Jed with only one viable HC candidate. Now the worm turns ... through no action of his own, that candidate (Shanahan) was then in a position to "select the GM that he preferred to work with" ... surely sighting the partnership as the rationale. But rather than selecting an "experienced personnel guy" (Paton or McDonough) he chooses Lynch! Why would he do that? I think that the answer might well have come as a suggestion from a very knowledgeable and wise father. Mike Shanahan knows that capable personnel guys can be found and hired. But Lynch offered things that the Niners have lacked for the past 17 years ... broad football knowledge, credibility in the NFL community, the reputation and ability to hire the right supporting people, the ability to provide a sense of direction, and the ability to lead. Those are things that nobody in the York family will ever be able to provide. If THAT could be added to the mix, son Kyle's future would have a much better chance of having a successful outcome ... and none of that was the strong suit of any of the other GM candidates.
So, we didn't hire the guys with extensive FO experience. Obviously that wasn't a problem. In his first week on the job Lynch hired two of the better personnel people around. Though less experienced from a tenure standpoint, I think that Peters is probably better at evaluating draft candidates than either Paton or McDonough ... and maybe Wolf, Gutekunst and Kirchner as well. Gamble can handle the pro personnel side, Paraag can handles the contract negotiations, and Mayhew can mentor Lynch in the job of being an NFL GM. A pretty decent start in my opinion.
Which brings up another question ... just exactly how important is it to have extensive in-the-trenches experience as a prerequisite for becoming a successful executive? Baalke's scouting and FO background was extensive ... and that translated into one of the sorriest, most ineffective GMs in the NFL.
Many people seem to believe that "working your way up from the bottom" is perhaps the preferred path to attaining an executive position. In reality that simply is not the case. Having any significant amount of functional experience at the staff or lower-management level is not a prerequisite for becoming or being an effective executive. In fact, the weaker CEOs that I have known, and I've known many, have "worked their way up from the bottom." The traits and abilities required to be successful as an executive and those needed to be a productive soldier are dramatically different. Let me use my own career as an example.
Before I retired I was a very good (but not great) CEO and COO of medium- to large-sized technology companies. Before that I was an outstanding CFO and Corporate Controller of serveral privately-held and publicly-traded companies ... including having taken several successfully through the IPO process and Wall Street launching. Before all that, among other things, I designed the cost accounting and financial reporting systems for both NASA (yes, that NASA) and BART (yes, that BART). Before that I developed financial systems design curriculum for a major international CPA firm and taught many of their consultants using that curriculum.
Do I understand accounting? Yes, although I suspect that some of you are much more accomplished technically. Was I an accounting major in college? No. Did I take any accounting classes while in college? Very few ... only the most basic ones. Did I ever hold any accounting or finance job below the corporate controllership level? No. Was my lack of formal accounting education, training and experience in the trenches a detriment in my career? Apparently not.
Executives live or die by their ability to envision, create, communicate, teach, lead and direct. Those skills have absolutely nothing to do with being effective as a worker bee. Conversely, being a productive worker bee doesn't translate to being an effective executive.
Lynch can offer something that this franchise hasn't had in the last 17 years ... vision, direction, and leadership. Jed may have the desire to win and to create an effective organization ... but he doesn't have a clue how to go about making that happen. Lynch does and can learn from those who have done it before him. He can hire competent help in scouting and managing the player personnel function ... and already has. That certainly works for me. Hence, I'm optimistic.