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John Lynch offers detailed timeline of 49ers pre-draft process

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This was an interesting deep dive by the 49ers GM.

The San Francisco 49ers have offered a much more open and transparent process since general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan took over the football operations side of the organization. They still keep plenty close to the vest, but they’ve been more willing to discuss the broader processes they have in place.

The latest example came on Monday. Lynch met with the media for the annual pre-draft press conference (video). He did not go into any specifics about the team’s draft board, but he did offer an incredibly detailed explanation of the team’s player evaluation calendar.

He went into detail about the various scouts and personnel executives that get involved in the process. The most interesting thing we learned this time around is that the team shook up the grading scale. This is not entirely surprising. Lynch was hired late last January, and he took some time to get his people in place. The in-season evaluation process was complete, so changing the grading scale would have created all sorts of problems.

The other interesting thing was how the coaching staff and scouts worked together to figure out what they want. Lynch was complimentary of how the coaching staff allowed scouts in their training camp meetings so they could figure the skills and other specifics they are looking for at each position. I can’t imagine the 49ers are the only team to do this, but I would not be surprised if this was not the smoothest operation under the previous regime.

I recommend checking out the entire opening segment, but here is a transcription of it as well. It’s an insightful read. Also, Matt Maiocco has a picture of the flowchart Lynch used to show how the process works.

“It starts really, like last March and April, is when our scouts are out on the road, and start gathering the prospects and start gathering the initial lists. We call them the ABCs, but it’s really starting, just a very preliminary list of where we ultimately are gonna end up.

”You move on into May, and you get what internally we call our summer manual — basically the reports that they put together in March and April. The NFS meetings are down in Florida. Josh Williams, one of our scouts, Martin Mayhew, Ethan Waugh, our college scouting director, are at those. Another look at all the players in a broad scope, and the evaluations really start in earnest.

”Then we come out for training camp. And all our scouts are here -- they help us evaluate our own roster, including our draft choices. But really, it’s taking a hard look — we used it as an opportunity since it’s still a new regime, of, we implemented a new grading scale and got the scouts on board with that. And really worked hard with our coaches to fine-tune the position-specific traits — what we’re looking for at each position. Kyle and his coaching staff have been incredible in terms of allowing our scouts in their meetings, so during training camp Justin Chabot, who cross-checks the O-line, is in with John Benton and the offensive line. So he can hear how they’re coached, how they’re talked to, the type of things that we’re looking for at each position. So, that’s incredibly valuable.

”Now here’s what you think of a scout, I’ll get you through Thanksgiving. They’re on the road, they’re grinding, they’re driving, they’re gone over 20 days a week. And, they’re doing all those things, staying in nice hotels — not really. They’re out, and they’re grinding. And they’re really putting in the work visiting various schools, talking to trainers, talking to the counselor who helps the athletes with their classes, talking to coaches, pro liaisons at the various schools.

“In December, you move, we come back here to 4949 and we have our preliminary draft meetings. This is really a focus on character. We’re not yet there on the players in terms of their play, in terms of the final report. These are really any alerts we have in terms of the character of the players. Scouts are here, coaches come up for some of it. Kyle is in on all of it. Some of the various coordinators come up, and whatnot.

“In January, now, we hit the road. The evaluations are ongoing. The All-Star games, the Shrine Game, the NFLPA game, the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, we’re out and about there. And then we have meetings here prior to those for the cross-check. So, each scout takes a position. Martin Mayhew took the corners, Justin Chabot took the O-line, John Stevenson took the safeties. And all the work that we’ve done and the grading we’ve done, they go through and cross-check with one position group, and we re-rank them in terms of their grades at that point.

“In February, coaches are back from kind of their vacation. They’ve coached a long year. They go on their vacation. Now we bring the coaches in, and along with the scouts, they get really their first look at these prospects. And they start to see the reports, and each position group comes in. We go, ‘OK, let’s take a look at LEOs and stack linebackers today.’ They come up, and so before we go to the combine, they have an idea of what they’re looking at.

“In March through April, the coaches really in earnest — while our scouts are out at workouts and private workouts and pro days, our coaches and us, the front office, we’re in here. And the coaches have taken the grades that we have, and now the coaches prioritize their list, how they have them ranked.

”And that’s really what goes on to get us to this place, where we are this week. And then this week, all the group meetings are done. This week is really about Kyle and I. We always have a lot of time together, but this is the time where all of a sudden the coaches have spoken, the scouts have spoken. Now he and I speak. And we say, ‘Okay, we’ve got these guys all ranked here. If we have a pot of four players, how are we going to divvy these guys up? How are we gonna rank them?’ So Kyle and I really spend a lot of time this week— which, I sit here during these meetings, and he sits here, and so we’re always talking. But this week’s really, Kyle and I put our final iteration of our board as we go into the draft.”