As the San Francisco 49ers roster continues to evolve, we’re starting to see the front office and coaching staff receive credit. Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty has ranked NFL general managers for the past three seasons. Last year, John Lynch ranked No. 16. The Niners ended up having their best season in quite a while, and now they are a Super Bowl contender. How would that reflect on Lynch? Daugherty ranked him No. 6 this year among all general managers:
6. John Lynch, 49ers
The 2019 NFC champion 49ers were a case study in how to build a winning roster. There were nailed early-round picks along the defensive line. Mid-round finds in George Kittle and Fred Warner. Instant rookie contributors in Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel. A reclamation project in Richard Sherman. Scrap heap phenomenons in Raheem Mostert and Kendrick Bourne. Trade acquisitions in Emmanuel Sanders and Dee Ford. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan pursued every avenue, and the road led them to the Super Bowl. They stayed in the zone this offseason, turning DeForest Buckner into a first-round pick after they determined they would not be re-signing him and acquiring LT Trent Williams for pennies on the dollar. Perhaps the scariest part about this group is that it has yet to be maximized on offense and is already a championship contender. Lynch and Shanahan could be just a player or two away from building one of the teams of the decade.
With one successful year under his belt as a general manager, is this too high of a ranking for Lynch? Or Lynch worthy of this ranking because he took a roster that was so depleted and turned it into a contender?
The true measure of a quality general manager, to me, at least, is finding the diamonds in the rough. The hit rate even first and second-round picks are a coin flip. Every team in the NFL misses on their top picks. We saw how important it is to hit on your top five selections and their impact on your team. Lynch whiffed on Solomon Thomas in 2017, but when Bosa fell into the Niners lap, San Francisco couldn’t have imagined Bosa would be as good as he was in 2019.
The Moseleys’, K’Waun Williams’, Breidas,’ and Greenlaw’s’ of the world are the signings and draft picks that help propel your team. Finding players under the radar that can contribute when called upon, like Daniel Brunskill and Ben Garland last year, is what keeps talented teams contending. Also, chemistry and culture. Lynch has brought in players that have high-level energy, such as Alexander.
As a general manager, your hit rate isn’t high, whether in the draft or free agency. What I admire most about Lynch and the front office is their aggressiveness. Fans overvalue draft picks, and good teams know how to manipulate the salary cap. If you like a player, go get him. If you think you’re close and are missing one piece, go get him. Lynch had done this from the very beginning of his tenure when he traded for a starting quarterback. That had continued as we saw the Niners trade for a left tackle when Joe Staley retired this past offseason. Lynch is going to swing and miss a lot. I’d much rather have a general manager that is willing to swing, though.