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John Lynch gets solid GM ranking, but how much can we assess?

He is building a great culture, but his partnership with Kyle Shanahan makes it difficult to assess him compared to his colleagues.

Last week, Sporting News ranked all 32 NFL head coaches, and San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan showed up at No. 20. The analyst acknowledged the excitement level surrounding the team under Shanahan, but also kept him lower because of the small sample size.

This week, Sporting News is back with a ranking of NFL general managers. Analyst Vinnie Iyer broke them all down, and ranked John Lynch No. 12. The top five general managers were Howie Roseman (Eagles), Bill Belichick (Patriots), Rick Spielman (Vikings), Kevin Colbert (Steelers), and Les Snead (Rams). Washington GM Bruce Allen was at the bottom of the rankings, just ahead of Mike Tannenbaum (Dolphins), Jason Licht (Buccaneers), Ryan Pace (Bears), and Duke Tobin (Bengals).

Here’s what Iyer had to say about Lynch:

Lynch has been on the job for only two offseasons, but he has proved to be a natural with his knowledge of the game. He has come out swinging with his franchise QB and exciting cogs to help Garoppolo while also creating the foundation of a special 4-3 defense with Thomas and Foster. The 49ers have the talent to get back to the playoffs soon.

John Lynch is a tough one to figure out when it comes to assessing GM performance. He and Kyle Shanahan are a partnership. Add in Paraag Marathe handling the contract negotiations, and it’s hard to fully assess where Lynch stands compared to his colleagues.

No GM does the job entirely on their own, but a Bill Belichick or Howie Roseman is viewed as more of the “main guy” than others on this list. But the 49ers have found a system that for the time-being seems to work for them. Shanahan and his coaches know what they want out of their players, while it feels like Lynch has helped to shape the culture of the organization. That’s not to say Lynch doesn’t have ideas on what he wants players and Shanahan is not building culture, but if I were to pick strengths for each man, it would be those.

The 49ers tried building relationships between their coach and GM in the past, and it developed into an unmitigated disaster. Things appear to finally be moving in the right direction. The relationship make it difficult to assess “John Lynch: General Manager,” but as long as the team continues to improve and work toward Lombardi No. 6 (and beyond), I have a hunch most of us aren’t too concerned about that.