The San Francisco 49ers currently have the second most cap space heading into 2017 free agency, and could end up with near $100 million depending on potential roster cuts. They are in the beginning stages of a rebuilding process, and their cap and draft pick situations open the door for a variety of options. They could get aggressive and try to add some significant veterans, they could be a bit more patient through the draft, or they could mix a little of both in, supplementing the draft via free agency.
GM John Lynch made an appearance on 95.7 The Game on Tuesday, and they asked him just how aggressive the team would be. Lynch talked about wanting to find guys that were the right system fit, but also had the football character he is looking to build.
Lynch brought up some interesting points about the advantages a former player can have in the free agency process. He acknowledged he has plenty to learn from non-players, but he provided a good example of John Elway’s courtship of Peyton Manning. Lynch made it clear he was not saying he was on Elway’s level, but he made a good point about what he can bring to the table.
Lynch did not actually specify how aggressive the 49ers would be, but that is to be expected. They have the money and the needs, but there’s no reason to think they will give away their strategy. But as we consider what the team might do, clearly system fit and “football character” are what we can consider when assessing potential free agents.
Here’s a transcript of Lynch’s comments on free agency (audio):
On free agency market and how aggressive 49ers will be:
You know, I think that’s one instance in having been a player, and having been a free agent where I think it gives you a little advantage. I know how important system fit is. I think that old adage, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, I think that sometimes when players — and there are certain players that can play in any scheme, in any era, at any time — I think that there’s a lot of players that say, you know what? I’m going to the highest bidder. I’m going to wherever they pay me the most, and oftentimes it’s not a fit, and they’re asking you to do things that you’ve never done throughout your career. And I often believe it’s tougher for that guy than it is for a rookie who comes in not knowing anything, and says, teach me. So I think system fit’s very important, and I think it’s very important when we’re trying to change a culture, that we’re bringing in the right kind of guy. Of course they have to be able to play. Of course they have to fit our schemes. But the right kind of guy to lead the charge on getting this thing back to where we think it belongs, it needs to be.
On how to vet players who will fit into the culture they’re trying to build:
Well, that’s the challenge. We can attack that a number of ways, and I think that one of the ways, those things that you emphasize tend to get done. From the very start that’s one thing I made very clear. That we’re gonna emphasize those things, the football character, whatever you want to call it. We’ve done a really effective job, I think, of Kyle and I getting together, identifying those things that we believe it takes to win in this league, and communicating those to our scouts, to our personnel team. And I think that’s important — that everyone’s speaking the same language, and that it’s authentic. Kyle and I have to believe a lot of the same things, and that’s what drew us together. And now it’s about articulating it so everyone knows what our vision is.
I think I’m real proud of job we’ve done, and in particular Kyle, he did just a tremendous job with his coaching staff of coming up with, the last two and a half weeks, our college scouts — they left last Friday, actually last Saturday — but they were in town. But having Kyle and his staff come up, in short order, I mean they just put this staff together — they were up here saying this is what we’re looking for at this position, these are the type of guys we’re looking for. I think was very effective.
One thing we’ve learned, there’s a lot of talented people in this building. Were some things broke? I think so. And the record last couple years indicate that. But there’s a lot of talent that you, it’d be easy to come in here and just blow everything up and say, we’re getting rid of everything. Instead, we took a look at everything, and what I’ve found is a lot of people I think can contribute to turning this thing around.
How much tape is he watching, how much say is he having vs. scouts:
I think a lot. Kyle and I came into this thing and from the start it was a partnership. And so I think all those things (his past experience) can be a huge asset, but if you come in blindly and say, I played and so I know this thing, I know it inside out, and anybody who didn’t play, I’m not listening to. That would be a mistake. Because what I’ve found over the years, there’s a lot of people who never played this game who understand what it takes to win extremely well. And so I think there’s a mix. I think you take everything that you can.
But I do think there are certain things where being a former player — you know, I watched John Elway, and one of the things I thought he did incredibly well, when he brought guys in the building for free agent visits, he landed them. And I think that’s because they trusted him. They knew he had been in those positions. Peyton Manning came in, and he knew that John Elway — how many people in this world can identify with Peyton Manning? Well John Elway could, and that helped him to land some people.
I’m not saying I’m John Elway, I would never say that, but I think there is some credibility lended to it. And then I think you also just have an understanding for things, and you just have to be open to the fact that just because you played doesn’t mean you know everything, and embrace other ideas. So that’s what we’re trying to do, and like I keep saying, that process has just started, and we really like the way it’s going.