San Francisco 49ers general manager continued his quarterback tour this week, meeting with Patrick Mahomes on Thursday night and then observing the quarterback at his Pro Day on Friday. Lynch had spent the previous week checking out Mitchell Trubisky, DeShaun Watson, DeShone Kizer. A busy round, with more quarterbacks to come.
In between the trio and Mahomes, Lynch spent a few days in Phoenix at the annual March owners’ meetings. While there, he had a chance to discuss the quarterbacks he had seen to that point. He made the media rounds, including this interview with NFL Network analyst Steve Wyche.
Lynch had this to say when asked about the quarterbacks and the evaluation process:
“We took a swing last week, I did. And we were at North Carolina’s Pro Day, we had a private workout with DeShaun Watson, and we saw DeShone Kizer at his Pro Day. So, back-to-back-to-back days, I think it was a really efficient and effective way to do it. Because we got to really compare them against each other while it was fresh in our minds. And I think, as much as you study film, and the film speaks in this league, there is some value to seeing it in person. We got to spend time with each of them. And I said it right when I was hired, and as I started to study these guys, I thought they were getting a bad rap. They each have reasons why, maybe people think they shouldn’t go 2. In Trubisky’s case, he’s only started 13 games. But they also, you turn on the tape with each of them, and they have redeeming qualities that make you say, ‘Wow, this guy would be a part of it.’
“So, we’re evaluating them and we’ll continue to do so. And Kyle and I, yes, one of the things, the first things we talked about, you gotta have a franchise quarterback. And we know that, we’re in search of it, and we’re looking at every avenue to try to get that.”
A day later, Kyle Shanahan met with the media at the coaches’ breakfast, and he was asked if any of the quarterbacks were worth the No. 2 pick. Shanahan said he’s not sure yet and has, “a lot more tape to watch. I’m sure I’ll have a stronger opinion on that by the draft.”
He was specifically asked if he had any opinion or informal ranking of the QB prospects. He offered more generalities than specifics:
“Yeah, every time I watch guys I’m trying to stack them and rank them. It is a process. Since the first day I watched two guys, I’m already ranking them and putting them next to each other. So that is always changing and you’re taking stuff in and you keep watching them and there’s a lot of tape to go through. You watch one guy one day and then you eventually get to other guys and then you have to go back and watch a guy again to make sure you weren’t just tired that day or you weren’t just (off). You have to keep going back and forth and really stacking them. There’s a fine line, you can overthink it a little bit but there’s also a lot that goes into it. The guys have all played at a very high level in college but that doesn’t always translate to the NFL. So you have got to put everything into it. Most of it is off the tape but a lot of it has to do with the person too.”
He did chime in on Trubisky’s small sample size of games:
“He’s pretty much like everyone else. He’s got 13 games on tape, had a great college year. Yeah, of course, the more games that are out there, the more coaches like because there’s more to study. But that’s not his fault. You can only control what you can control. The opportunities he got, he played at a very high level and that’s why he’s in this discussion for everybody.”
When asked if it was possible to find a franchise quarterback from this class:
“There’s a possibility always but I don’t care who the coach is, who the general manager is, no one can guarantee anything. It’s a process and everyone is looking for that franchise quarterback. People have found them with the first pick in the draft, people have found them in the sixth round. Everyone knows all the stories that have happened, that’s why you have got to look at everyone. You have got to value that and know where people are going to go and just because they’re the first guy taken doesn’t mean he’s going to be the best guy and sometimes the last guy can be the best guy. You never know and it’s not obvious all the time. You have got to look into everything. Everyone is taking their best educated guess and that’s why you have got to put a lot of work into it.”
What’s all this to say? Well, they are happy to sell what they can of each of the quarterbacks. The fact that Shanahan has remained in Santa Clara while Lynch and company make the rounds suggests how valuable Shanahan views the film side of things.
That’s not to say he does not need to meet with each QB. Lynch said that at the Combine, the 49ers met with all the QBs they were going to meet after the Combine. Shanahan was likely part of those meetings, so he has had a chance to speak with each.
The 49ers brought in Lynch to help change the culture. Maybe his additional meetings with the quarterbacks are how he assesses their fit for the culture, while Shanahan is focused on the actual on-field talent they bring. Maybe this is how they collaborate and figure out what they want from the quarterback position.