San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch met with the local media for 45 minutes on Monday to talk everything 49ers. Lynch was easily the most transparent person that we’ve talked to in the past year, which is saying something for a general manager. Lynch answered every question thoroughly and even made sure to ask how each individual was doing. Seeing Lynch in his own element was refreshing.
Lynch said he was confident that Joe Staley would return in 2020, and also confirmed the team had had talks about trading receiver Marquise Goodwin. Speaking of trades, the first question was about DeForest Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders:
Given where you guys are at in terms of the championship window being open and not having draft picks in rounds two, three and four, what’s the balance that you guys are trying to strike between getting guys that can contribute and maybe fill holes right now while also keeping this sustainable for the long term?
“Yeah, we’ve always had a feeling that you can do both. You can think long term and try to build something that’s sustainable. I think when you look at our roster, we have a lot of guys that are signed and beyond this year, so we feel really good about that. Would we change, I think a little bit of your question, looking back now, we don’t have a second pick, but I think our second-round pick last year was a pretty good one and that’s [DL] Dee Ford. I understand that Dee didn’t play as much as we would want, would have wanted him to. His body didn’t allow for that last year. What I do know is when he was on there, we were a different team. So, would we change that? Absolutely not. I don’t think we’re at the Super Bowl without that. The same could be said for [New Orleans Saints WR] Emmanuel [Sanders], you know, our third and fourth-round picks. We picked up a fifth-round one some picks later, but, you know, the same thing there. I think Emmanuel made us better. He helped us get to the Super Bowl. So, do you trade that? Do you take that? Do you wish you had that back at this point? No. You wish you had draft picks, but in my mind, it was worth it. We were able to get the pick back. I told you how tough that was for DeForest, and I think we have ample opportunity with the picks we have. We already have a lot of guys signed, so there’s not a ton of roster spots. We have one of the better rosters in football in my mind, and so it’s going to be real hard for draft picks to make this as well. I don’t think it’d be a great year to have ten draft picks. I think it’s going to be hard to make this team, so we’ve got to make them count. That’s the feeling every year, but especially this year with very few. We’ve got to make every pick that we make, whether it be the number 13 pick, the 31st pick if we were to move out of those or they’re our fifth or sixth or seventh-round picks, that we really make them count.”
The takeaway here is that Lynch knows there is a lot of talent on the roster, and moving down to stockpile picks may not be in the best interest for the team as the rookies will have a hard time making the roster. The vibe given off from Lynch throughout the call was that he’s looking for quality and not quantity.
Here is Lynch on the current situation at defensive tackle:
“Yeah, so obviously [DL] D.J. Jones is a guy that we’re extremely excited about. Unfortunately, had the high ankle sprain that sent him to IR, and we weren’t able to make our playoff push and run with him, so we’re extremely excited. He’s working extremely hard about having him back. [DL] Solomon Thomas is a guy that we felt played well last year in a role. We think that role will expand. [DL] Kevin Givens and [DL] Jullian Taylor, [DL] Kentavius Street, all those guys had some form or fashion of injuries, but that’s kind of the group we’re working with. We looked at some things during free agency. Nothing really came to fruition. So, that’s the group there. We’ll see where that goes, but that’s who we’re working with at this point. I should add, and you guys know this, in our sub-nickel situations, [DL Arik] Armstead, who’s a big end as we align, is a guy who has the flexibility to move on down and ends up playing a lot inside on nickel situations. So, while he’s listed as a defensive end, we all know that he plays a big role in that capacity as well.”
There were whispers that Thomas is going to play inside full-time, and Solly was the second name to come out of Lynch’s mouth. I’m curious if they’re asking Thomas to bulk up. Armstead playing inside is such a luxury that most teams can’t afford.
Lynch was very open about the 49ers willingness to trade:
With only five picks this year, do you feel that’s adequate to fulfill your needs, or how open are you to trading?
“I think we’re open to trading. I think the one caveat, you know there’s reports, some of them are true and some of them are you know, reports. That’s what happens this time of year. I’m comfortable saying that we’re currently, and we will right up to the draft let people know there are scenarios where we’re going to be open at both of those picks to moving back. It’s out there for everyone to see. We have two firsts, and then we don’t have a pick until the fifth where we have two picks and then a sixth and then two sevenths. With those picks, there’s a big gap in there. So maybe you don’t want 10, but seven might be nice. Excuse me; we have seven, a couple more might be nice just to close that gap. There also are scenarios where we’re going to be real convicted with a player at 13, and we have that in our mind. Who are those players, because I think the way you have to look at it is we lost a special player in Buck, a foundational-type player. If you can find a foundational player at 13, that’s something you have to weigh. Can you find two more foundational players later on, but I don’t think you pass up on a guy that you think is a difference-maker at those spots, and we’re going to be prepared in both those instances. Just like a football game, during the draft last year, it was a lot easier at two because you had a good feeling what was going to happen before you. Even at 13, which is a relatively early pick, there’s so much that can go on. We’re prepared for all scenarios, open to listening, but we’re also prepared that if we’re convicted at those spots, we’ll stand pat and deliver the pick.”
Lynch said that they’d had discussions with teams about the 13th pick, but nothing is set in stone. He also said they’d narrowed it down to six “foundational players” they’d like to take at 13. If neither of those six is there, the Niners may look to move down to add Day 2 picks.
Hurry up and get here already Thursday.