The San Francisco 49ers made a pair of bold moves this offseason when they hired John Lynch as general manager and Kyle Shanahan as head coach. They made a host of moves in free agency and the draft that could impact the team for the next few years, but if the 49ers turn things around, it will be because of those first two hirings.
And it is fitting then that it ends up high on a list of the best moves of the 2017 offseason. NFL analyst Brent Sobleski ranked the 25 best moves of the offseason, and he has the 49ers ranked No. 3.
Sobleski talked about the surprise of hiring Lynch, but had praise for the 49ers aggressive offseason. That is in contrast to the lukewarm feelings of 15 anonymous NFL insiders that helped Mike Sando put together his offseason grades. They gave the 49ers a C, and did not seem to see a clear philosophy in the 49ers offseason plan.
The 49ers did not waste time this offseason, and Sobleski views the roster overhaul as a net positive.
That lack of experience made his performance throughout free agency and the draft all the more startling. The 49ers began to revamp their roster with the free-agent acquisitions of quarterback Brian Hoyer, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, linebacker Malcolm Smith and wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin.
Their approach kicked into overdrive during the draft, as they emerged as clear "winners" of this year's festivities. First, San Francisco swindled the Chicago Bears in the Mitchell Trubisky deal and still landed defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the third overall pick. Lynch and Co. moved back into the first round to acquire another top-five-caliber talent in linebacker Reuben Foster.
Lynch's early work doesn't overshadow the hire of head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was considered one of the top available head coaching candidates. The former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator has been groomed for this position his entire life. His offensive scheme is one of the NFL's best, and he has a strong mind for the game.
"He's super-intelligent, and the more and more comfortable he gets, it's going to be a bright future for him," center Daniel Kilgore said, per ESPN.com's Nick Wagoner.
With both parties signing six-year deals, the 49ers finally appear to have stability at the organization's two most important positions.
We have no idea how any of these signings, trades, and draft picks will work out this season and beyond. But the last line of Sobleski’s write-up is the most important part of this. The 49ers would appear to have gained some semblance of stability for the first time a long while. The past three seasons were a mess, with the whisper campaign against Jim Harbaugh followed by his departure and the hiring and firing and Jim Tomsula and then Chip Kelly. The last time there was any semblance of stability was probably 2012. The 49ers had a strong 2013 season, but even then things were already starting to get a little weird in retrospect.
There is plenty to take away from this offseason, and we’ll be speculating about all of this until the season gets here. But for now we’re left reviewing the processes. A year from now we could be shaking our heads in disbelief at how bad things have gone, but the way things have been handled thus far suggest the 49ers are at least moving in the right direction.