The San Francisco 49ers surprised the football world three months ago when they announced the hiring of FOX Sports announcer and Hall of Fame finalist safety John Lynch as their new general manager. We had heard rumors about several candidates, and then all of a sudden, Lynch had the job.
Lynch later said that he had wanted to make sure the 49ers kept things quiet until something actually happened. It was in part for privacy, but also as a bit of a test given the 49ers recurring leaks over the past few years.
I bring this up because Rotoworld is back with their annual general manager rankings. They do not include new GMs in the rankings, instead offering some thoughts on each. Their section on John Lynch took me back to the unexpected nature of his hiring.
John Lynch got the 49ers job through a cold call. Seriously. The longtime safety and excellent T.V. analyst dialed up new coach Kyle Shanahan and “volunteered for the job.” It was so crazy, everyone in the Niners’ front office apparently thought it might work. Lynch, a 15-year veteran and former All-Pro, doesn’t lack for football knowledge. After learning from Dennis Green and Bill Walsh at Stanford, he played for Sam Wyche, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan in the pros. Lynch oozed Xs and Os working alongside Kevin Burkhardt at FOX. His résumé is decidedly more impressive than Matt Millen’s, someone he will be compared to often in the early going. All that being said, there’s still no way to sugarcoat it: Lynch is a massive gamble. The 49ers needed a fresh perspective after the decay of the Trent Baalke era. No one can say they didn’t get it.
The situation was not as black and white as Lynch cold-calling Shanahan and volunteering for the job. That is part of it to some extent, but they had talked football previously when FOX was covering one of the Falcons’ playoff games. I don’t think they discussed Lynch being a GM at that point, but they talked football.
That being said, it is amusing to read that paragraph in the context of Lynch just picking up the phone and asking about becoming Shanahan’s general manager. It would be interesting to have been a fly on the wall during some of those early conversations.
Lynch has been general manager now for just under three months, and he has been plenty busy. The 49ers were active in free agency, and with ten picks in the 2017 NFL draft, including No. 2 and 34, they figure to have plenty going on next week.
Lynch is indeed a huge gamble given his lack of front office experience, but it is an intriguing look outside the box. Whether it actually works is another question entirely. The 49ers have found some interesting options in free agency, but how they will fit in and how they will execute are unknowns for the time being. Lynch is in charge of the 90-man roster, but Kyle Shanahan likely has some significant say in how it is assembled.
Any assessment of Lynch will have to include some thoughts on what Shanahan brings to the picture. They’ll be judged separately in rankings like this, but they are most definitely joined at the hip for the foreseeable future.