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49ers’ GM John Lynch says decision not to draft Mahomes will haunt him for a while

The Hall of Fame inductee opened up about San Francisco’s thought process leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The quarterback position has been under the microscope for the San Francisco 49ers ever since their 2020 season wrapped up.

There have been plenty of rumors and hot takes about the Niners being interested in upgrading the position with players like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson available via trade.

Nothing has resulted from any of the talks, and it looks like San Francisco will run it back with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter for the 2021 season.

Of course, we wouldn’t have had any of these discussions if the 49ers selected Watson or Patrick Mahomes at the 2017 NFL Draft. General manager John Lynch — who will be going into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — opened up about passing up on Mahomes in 2017 during a Zoom call with media members after news broke that he will be inducted later this year (h/t 49ers Web Zone):

“That will probably haunt me for a while.

We were in a different place as an organization, and we had a different plan for quarterback because we really weren’t — I remember going to his pro day doing my job but really as kind of a smokescreen because were going elsewhere then calling my head coach, Kyle, and saying, ‘We might want to rethink this because he put on a show.’

It was a windy day in Lubbock, and I remember sitting or standing next to various NFL GMs and what not, and everybody’s job was dropping because of what he was doing — throwing the ball into the wind, and he finished with like an 80-yard throw, it was remarkable.”

Lynch also said that the 49ers’ brass had dinner with Mahomes prior to the draft, and he made a great impression. San Francisco held the second overall pick in 2017 and wound up trading back one spot. The Niners took defensive lineman Solomon Thomas while the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to No. 12 to land Mahomes.

The rumor was that the 49ers were going to pursue Kirk Cousins in free agency following the 2017 campaign, but the team wound up trading for Garoppolo, who remains the starter for now.

Mahomes has taken the league by storm. The 25-year-old has a 38-8 record, completing 66.3% of his passes for 14,152 yards, 114 touchdowns and 24 picks. Mahomes was named the 2018 NFL MVP in his second season as a starter.

The Niners saw first-hand how good Mahomes is when he rallied the Chiefs back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter of last year’s Super Bowl. Mahomes won Super Bowl MVP as Kansas City beat San Francisco 31-20.

Eleven teams passed on Mahomes, so the 49ers aren’t alone in their regret. Mahomes would have been the face of the franchise for at least the next decade, and we likely wouldn’t have been discussing the quarterback position at all this offseason.

We will see Mahomes go for his second-straight championship when the Chiefs play Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.