One of the quickly forgotten narratives in the offseason was a report by Matt Miller on there being friction between San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. Just as quickly as that report surfaced, it was never brought up again.
So what the hell is going on?
In his latest mailbag, Matt Maiocco got asked about the relationship between the two and went into some detail on what Lynch’s day-to-day scouting activities are.
I did not see or hear anything [on the friction between Lynch/Shanahan] before that report came out. And I have not seen or heard anything since.
Recently, I asked around about 49ers general manager John Lynch. I wanted to know how much he goes on the road to scout college prospects during the season. My question had nothing to do with his relationship with Shanahan. I was just curious how Lynch manages his time during the season.
What I was told is probably the biggest indication that there is no friction between the men -- just the opposite, in fact.
I was told that Lynch will basically only go to college games in the Bay Area or near wherever the 49ers are playing because Shanahan likes to have Lynch nearby.
As the head coach and engineer of the team’s offense, Shanahan leans heavily on Lynch to help him deal with a lot of matters that come across his desk. Shanahan appreciates and values the support he receives from Lynch.
I have seen plenty of coach-GM relationships where the head coach does not want the GM around ... and vice versa. This is not one of those situations. That is probably all you need to know about their relationship.
Do you want to know the opposite of what’s described? Trent Baalke. Baalke was known for taking scouting trips midseason beginning on Thursdays and not returning until Sunday when the 49ers played. This made sense since Baalke had a scouter’s background. Still, when you take what Maiocco wrote above into consideration, one GM is desired around the building and is happy to stick around and help his coach, while the other is off doing their own thing and either they or their coach don’t need to collaborate.
I’d say that’s normal, everyone works in different ways and this is just a situation by situation comparison. The thing is, this is Baalke, and he had a history of doing his own thing without caring what anyone’s input was or what help they needed.
Something else to consider is that Lynch and Shanahan have a symbiotic relationship. One doesn’t succeed without the other. Shanahan may have more power per se, but it sounds like he probably wouldn’t be handling things as well without Lynch there to provide the voice of reason or take care of some things.
The coach/GM relationship has been fascinating to me recently, and it’s becoming a question mark lately through the NFL. Don’t be surprised if you see the league taking a look at the 49ers’ way of doing things going forward. The 49ers turned around an awful roster to create stability, a culture built on brotherhood, and an 8-0 record for 2019. The new division of labor in the front office and in the coaching department has to have a hand in that. If there’s anything to take from this, one year of losing for a brand new head coach is something to be expected in a roster turnaround and not grounds for dismissal—something the league seems to have an uptick in doing. Then again, it’s not when a team loses, but HOW it loses.
Regardless, when there’s fighting or tension, 49ers fans know what the result of that is.