The San Francisco 49ers hired John Lynch out of the broadcasting booth to be the team’s general manager, a big splash that reflects the team’s uncertainty.
John Lynch is one of the best safeties to play the game, defining a hard hitting style that was also cerebral. He was a difference maker as a player, helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl and the Denver Broncos to the AFC Championship.
Lynch deserves heaps of praise for his work as a player and he deserve the benefit of the doubt that he can tackle general manager duties as well as he did offensive players and the broadcasting booth. But this move to make him general manager of the San Francisco 49ers is so out of the left field, it has the NFL world reeling.
Hiring a coach, 37 years old, who’s never been a head coach. Hiring a GM, 45, who’s never worked in personnel. Well, Jed York wanted to buy a lottery ticket and shoot for the moon … he’s done that.
This gets to the heart of the matter. Lynch is untested as a front office man and the 49ers are bringing him into arguably the most unstable franchise situation in the NFL and pairing him with a first-time head coach. That seems like a no-win situation.
Tom Pelissero at USA Today called it “the ultimate gamble” which is to say, what are the 49ers thinking? It’s a question on everyone’s mind.
After disastrous experiments with CEO Jed York—who famously said you can’t fire the owner—it’s clear the 49ers wanted to make a splash to make the NFL forget about the Trent Baalke mess up. After being passed over by the better candidates for head coach (no offense to Kyle Shanahan) and front office men, the 49ers must have been reaching the bottom of the barrel. So, the 49ers looked outside the box and brought in Lynch.
Good communication, a Super Bowl, and a great competitor. All due respect to Lynch, but if that’s all it takes to be a general manager, then the job would be easy to fill. If that was the criteria by which the Niners were judging candidates, they’d have a plethora of ex-players to choose from.
More importantly, this isn’t something that Lynch seemed to be preparing for. The Sacramento Bee highlights this in talking about the hiring that “developed quickly.” Just how quickly? “Two weeks ago I never thought I’d be doing this,” Lynch said.
The San Francisco 49ers just cemented themselves as the worst managed football team in the NFL. Hopefully Lynch does well—he deserves it—but to arbitrarily bring in someone fresh who hasn’t been aspiring to be a general manager, has a limited network, will have to work with a new head coach he didn’t hire, and work with York is asking too much. The Cleveland Browns have more solid plans in place than the Niners.
Making Lynch the general manager is a big splash and it’s a big gamble. Most importantly, it’s a big insight into just how dysfunctional the 49ers truly are.