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John Lynch talked film study, Steve Kerr, turning around bad teams, Colin Kaepernick

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The 49ers GM took some time to chat on KNBR about his meeting with Colin Kaepernick, and the issues of turning around the San Francisco 49ers.

New San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch met with quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Wednesday, and he had a chance to discuss it later in the day. Lynch has already spoken with the media outside of press conferences more this offseason than it feels like Baalke did for most offseasons of his career. Lynch is still early in his tenure, and he spent enough time in broadcasting that this is not a surprise. Will it last?

Here is a transcript of Lynch’s comments on KNBR (audio).

On if it’s accurate he and Kyle Shanahan have been neglecting families to watch film:

Yeah, I’ve been around guys way too much here of late. But I guess that’s what I signed up for. Kyle and I are getting to know each other really well, but I think it’s been tremendous. I know it’s been tremendous. That time with him is invaluable, it’s something that, reaching out to people who I respect immensely — Tony Dungy was one of them — I said Tony ok, first thing I do when I get in there, and he said “You get in there with your head coach and watch film and talk football.” We’ve been doing a ton of that and it’s been tremendous. Kyle and his staff things have moved fast, but they’ve been able to come up — we had our college scouts in — Come up and say “Guys, this is what we’re looking for, the profile of each position.” We’re defining things; who we want to be as a team, what we want to be as a team and it’s an excellent process.

On if he used TV in the same vein as Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr did to document things he liked, plays, players etc. even if he was unsure if he’d ever want to be GM:

Yeah, I think maybe it sounds like Steve, I do know Steve, I think maybe he was a bit more intentional knowing this was the end-point for him that he’d definitely want to do it someday. I was kind of going about my business. I’ll tell you by virtue of that, you soak in a lot of knowledge. I was just curious. I’m a football junkie. I was trying to be the best broadcaster I could be. By virtue of that is you’re in buildings all the time. You’re sitting down with head coaches, with quarterbacks, with coordinators with the best players on those teams. At the same time, you’re sitting down with general managers and owners come down and chat you up. You’re exposed to a lot of things and you take a lot of things in. I think one thing people don’t understand is you become very insularly focused on ‘this is the way we did things with Tony Dungy in Tampa, this is the way we did things with Jon Gruden. I played for Mike Shanahan.’ So their mindset on how you get things done. But the one thing broadcasting does is expose you to the rest of the league. There’s more than one way to get things accomplished and you can look at it for a number of facets for teams that are successful and also for organizations that are perennial losers and you start to figure out in your own mind why.

What changed in Tampa going from three losing seasons to being contenders and how difficult it was to keep his attitude in 3 losing season:

I think there was a mindset that started with Rich McKay, only grew under Tony Dungy that football character has to matter. We gotta get guys from winning programs. It was very fortunate for the Buccaneers at the time. Miami was one of the best programs in college football, as was Florida and Florida state so they didn’t have to go far. It worked on so many fronts. It worked on the marketing campaign—lets keep guys. Now occasionally they would grab guys like me from Stanford and say, “Fit in over here”. I think that was a big part of it: let’s get guys that are winners already that know how to win. They did a great job of doing that. They also found some guys with unique talent. Guys like Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks hall of fame players, Ronde Barber, Simeon Rice, those kinds of players. It took some young players who said, “You know what guys? What they’ve been doing around here hasn’t been working, so maybe we need to come out of our comfort zone as players and we need to become the leaders of this team.” So it took some young guys—I was one of those—and got to take over this team because we’re like minded and we want to turn this around, we want to win world championships. When you start doing that, it’s an awesome force. Then you get a guy like Dungy who really had a blueprint, “We’re not changing anymore guys. These are the systems we’re running, they’re proven to work. Once you start trusting them and if you produce you are going to be around. We aren’t changing players every week so buy into the systems.” So I learned a lot through that process and I think that’s invaluable for what we’re going through now.

On the first thing he can do to make the 49ers better that we’ll see:

Look, one of the things that drew me to this opportunity and pulled me away from what was already a pretty nice life; I got my taste of football my family was very happy, this is my offseason. As my wife says, we used to take walks at 10 AM—we could do that whenever we wanted. The thing is, I know what this organization stands for, what it once stood for. And it wasn’t a too far away time. It was a couple years ago, three years ago, this was one of the organizations in football, one of the iconic organizations. I think that it’s been done here before, and there’s standards you have to uphold and expectations that you say are going to be a part of the fabric of everything that we do. Honest to goodness, I felt like it was important to let everyone in this building to know, from the business side to assistants to everybody in this building to the janitors that we need you all. We need you to believe you’re a part of this because you are. To really set the vision and the tone for the building, I think that’s incredibly important. Also, along with that, you have to have talent. We have some strides to make on this roster, but I can also tell you, I don’t look up at the film that we’ve been watching and see a 2-14 team, I see some pieces that are hard to build. A great example of that, I think you look at our offensive line and our defensive line, I’m actually excited about those groups and those are where I believe where football games are won and lost. It starts there. Do we have some places probably the ultimate position, quarterback where we need to improve? Absolutely. We’re committed to doing that, but there’s some pieces there that have me excited, Kyle excited. There’s a long list of things, but we’re working hard at all of them.

On being serious about changing the culture and not having that be something that you throw out there:

No, and look: we set out to be transparent in everything we do. That doesn’t mean telling everyone everything, because there are some things that need to stay in this building, but we’ve got nothing to hide. I think that’s been our approach. We also know winning press conferences isn’t what we’re paid to do, we’re paid to win football games. I tell players all the time that have come in there, my wife often tells me “Show me, don’t tell me.” And we understand that full well. I understand what this league’s about, played in it, been around it for 20+ years, and it is the ultimate production based business. We get it, we understand it, but we’re committed to winning championships here. It will happen. I firmly believe that, how long that’s going to take, I can’t make any promises there. But I think it’s quicker than people think.

Is he thinking about a quarterback 24 hours a day and in every situation?:

We’re both working on that. We’re working on that tirelessly. I wouldn’t say 24 hours, but darn close. There’s been many a night that I’ve been over in my hotel waking up in the middle of the night thinking about that very thing. We felt like it was absolutely critical from the very start, let’s evaluate what we have. We’re still in the process of doing that. I think one thing you mentioned, the number two pick. Here’s so many people who talk like that, feeling sorry for us having the number two pick like it’s a tough position. Look, I don’t like being 2-14, but fortunately for me, I wasn’t a part of that. I am a part of it now. The great byproduct of that is we have the number two pick and I think gives us a tremendous asset. We’ve got a lot of options. We can stay pat right there and find a fabulous player, a game-changing player. It gives us a lot of flexibility to do some other things if we choose to be bold. There’s going to be people who covet the pick that we have and there’s going to be some people who want to move up. I think it gives us a lot of options and it gives us a lot of things. It’s one thing that drew me to Kyle Shanahan, he prepares his tail off. He grinds like no coach I’ve ever been around. He is a ultimate grinder, but he’s never going to play scared. Sometimes that garners some criticism, but I’d rather live life that way and that’s the way we’re approaching this number two pick. We’re going to look at every option. We see it as a great thing that we have it, and we’ll use it as such.

On Wednesday meeting with Colin Kaepernick and what an honest discussion entailed:

Yea, we did. I’m sitting int he very chair, and I’m looking across at the chair he sat in, and Kyle Shanahan was in here as well. And I would characterize it as a really positive discussion. I think we, from the start, Kyle and I have committed — I was a player once and you just want to be honest, you want people to be honest with you. And so we committed to doing that. We also committed to what we talked about remaining between us. And so I’m not talking out of both sides of my mouth because I say, “Hey, we’re going to be transparent.” But I definitely do think that there’s some things that are sacred.

We had a great discussion and Colin left excited, we left excited, and I think as Kyle and I really believe, the evaluation process is still very much fluid. And we’ve only been on the job a couple weeks. I can tell you, we both really very much enjoyed being around Colin and he seems like he’s in a real good place.