We’ve seen variations of Power Rankings from quarterbacks to coaches. What we haven’t seen is a ranking of general managers. What better time to rank GMs across the NFL than the week leading up to the draft?
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal attempted to rank the current NFL general managers, sans those that were hired after the 2018 NFL Draft. Rosenthal said the ranking is based on how general managers have performed in their current role, including drafts, free agency, trades, hirings, and firings. San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch has received his fair share of criticism. There have been plenty of swings and misses during his tenure with the Niners. What I appreciate most is Lynch remains aggressive. He has the correct mindset when it comes to team-building, and if he feels like the team is close, as we saw last trade deadline, he’s not afraid to make a move to bolster the 49ers roster.
First, here is what was said about Lynch this time last year:
Two years of the John Lynch experience in San Francisco has contained a lot of swings and a lot of foul balls, if not outright misses. This ranking admittedly might be different if Jimmy Garoppolo hadn’t been hurt last year, but the 49ers’ defensive struggles remain more on the front office. Lynch’s first two draft picks ( Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster) haven’t worked out for different reasons, although Thomas still has a chance to become a more consistent contributor. Lynch suffers in these rankings for the same reason Chris Ballard succeeds: With a limited sample size, every draft class and free agency period counts.
Now that there is another year under Lynch’s belt, he jumps from No. 22 on the list to No. 6:
Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017. There were more standout players in place than most rebuilding jobs, but it’s remarkable that the 49ers now have perhaps the most talented roster in football. Credit Lynch for overcoming a disastrous first two picks at the helm ( Solomon Thomas at No. 3 and Reuben Foster at No. 31) to find core players at every level of the last three drafts, including George Kittle, Fred Warner, Mike McGlinchey, Deebo Samuel, and Nick Bosa. New GMs are supposed to show their work by Year 3, and Lynch’s work nearly won a title.
Our takeaway should be everyone in the NFL misses and misses a lot. The success rate is so low that health, signing a couple of key free agents, and one draft where you knock it out of the park is enough to turn your organization around. Perfect expectations aren’t realistic. Of course, the 49ers would be different under Patrick Mahomes or if they had Christian McCaffrey. It’s ignorant to say you’d have Mahomes and McGlinchey, Warner, Bosa, and Deebo. Lynch has been superb on Day 3. He’s found building blocks like D.J. Jones and Dre Greenlaw, undrafted free agents like Matt Breida and Emmanuel Moseley. We’re not far off from a fifth-round pick in 2017 becoming the highest-paid tight end in the history of the NFL.
Rosenthal didn’t limit the rankings to the draft. The 49ers 2019 coaching staff was as loaded as their roster. You have the best offensive mind in football calling plays, and he has two masterminds as both his run and passing game coordinators. Robert Saleh’s preparation schematically is as good as it gets, and what Joe Woods added to the defense won’t get the recognition it deserved. I’m fascinated to see where Lynch lands on this list next year after having two first-round picks in the 2020 draft.