The San Francisco 49ers front office has been well represented in Mobile, Alabama for the 2018 Senior Bowl. I had a chance to catch up with general manager John Lynch to talk a little about the process in preparation for the draft, starting with the Senior Bowl. He was very complimentary of the entire staff, who have watched tons of film in preparation for this time of year.
Lynch started with explaining that while film doesn't lie, there are things you can see in person that you can’t see, or maybe looks different, on film. The Senior Bowl is the first event where players measurements are made public after being done by an objective party. Sometimes players body types aren’t exactly what was expected from watching film.
Lynch says most importantly, the opportunity to interview players individually after practice is over in one on ones is the most valuable. He explains that there’s nothing quite as telling as “looking a guy in the eye and figuring out what makes them tick,” and he and his staff has to take advantage of every opportunity. It’s how they came to the decision to draft Reuben Foster in the first round.
“We probably spent more time with him than anybody in the draft because we felt like it was necessary. We grew comfortable and we felt really good about him. It hasn’t been without bumps, as we all know, but we still believe in him a great deal. He’s got to stay — he knows it — he’s got to stay clean. We all know how special of a player he can be when he’s right. So he’s got to figure out how to stay healthy and stay out of trouble, but we believe he will do that.”
Foster’s punishment is still to be determined, but hopefully it’s not the beginning of a trend. He is very effective on the field and he brings an energy to the locker room that is undeniable. How differently he is perceived in person versus what you see just on paper/film is remarkable. I am not the only member of the media that noted enjoying his interviews win or lose.
Lynch and his staff had one of the best drafts of 2017, producing a very productive rookie class. They have their work cut out for them to try to match it, or do better in 2018. The Senior Bowl is one of the first big opportunities this offseason to build on their in-season evaluation process.