By Darby Brown-Kuhn:
After four weeks of uncertainty, the hunt for a new G.M. is finally over for the San Francisco 49ers.
In a shocking twist, team president Jed York signed probable future Hall of Fame inductee John Lynch to a six-year deal.
The signing is unusually long for a G.M. even if they have front office experience let alone Lynch who is stepping into the role for the first time. On the bright side, the vacancy is filled and the franchise can start to rebuild a niners team that finished with a franchise-worst 2-14 record last season.
There were more experienced G.M. candidates in the market who were interviewed by the 49ers, but York decided to pair Lynch with presumptive rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The match makes sense. Lynch played under Kyle’s father, Mike Shanahan, when he was a member of the Denver Broncos from 2004-07, so the two already have an established rapport with each other.
Going forward, their relationship should be more cohesive than the prior partnerships with former G.M. Trent Baalke, who was reclusive and often difficult to work with.
Baalke’s biggest flaw was his steadfast commitment to improve the franchise solely on his terms, whether it was through the draft or free agency, and he contributed to the firing of the last three head coaches.
Lynch, based on his history as a player, shouldn’t have the same problem.
When he played football at Stanford University, Lynch originally joined the team as a quarterback, but switched to safety in his sophomore year after the team signed highly touted freshman Steve Stenstrom. The sacrifice Lynch made for the benefit of the team paid off astronomically.
He would go on to have a 15-year career with nine Pro Bowl selections, and was one of the best safeties in the NFL during his prime. Besides his tremendous football IQ, Lynch was a physical force on the field, known for delivering bone-crushing hits on opposing offensive players.
Niners fans are hoping Lynch’s success on the field will follow him to the front office because the roster he’s now in charge of fixing has more holes than a kitchen sponge.
That lack of talent can be attributed to Baalke’s lack of success in the draft.
During his five-year tenure, safety Eric Reid and outside linebacker Aldon Smith were the only players drafted by Baalke to make the Pro Bowl.
His 2012 draft class was an utter disaster, no players from that class are currently on the team and most of them aren’t even in the league anymore. In case you forgot, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who played a total of 28 games in the NFL, was the niners first-round pick in that draft and was chosen over Pro-Bowl wideouts Alshon Jeffrey and T.Y. Hilton.
Thankfully, Lynch has the second-overall pick to work with and there’s plenty of talent to choose from whether it be on offense or defense. Mitch Trubisky and Deshone Kizer are solid quarterback prospects and Jonathan Allen and Myles Garrett were defensive stalwarts in college and can contribute to an NFL team right away. Food for thought, Garrett would look really good in a 49ers uniform.
And on top of that, the Niners are projected to be $81 million under the salary cap next season, according to Over The Cap, so Lynch and Shanahan will have plenty of money to sign.
The team had over $50 million in cap space this season, which Baalke chose not to use for whatever reason, which didn’t sit well with 49ers fans. With players such as Jeffrey, Jahri Evans and Jordan Cameron on the market, don’t expect Lynch and Shanahan to remain idle in the coming months.
York has given these two men full control, expecting them to work together in harmony in order to rebuild the 49ers from the figurative pile of ashes Baalke left in his wake.
The only thing niners fans can do now is wait and hope that whatever happens in the coming months will produce better results than the nightmarish campaign this season.
York has his men in place, now we wait and see. And pray.