McKay: Communication, drive are key to John Lynch as 49ers' GM
John Lynch should make a seamless transition from player and broadcaster to the 49ers general manager because of his competitiveness and ability to communicate.
That’s according to Falcons president Rich McKay, who went from the Bucs general counsel to GM in 1994 before leaving for the same position in Atlanta in 2003.
"The trait I like about John for this is his competitiveness," McKay said Monday at Super Bowl LI. "The other thing John had that was impressive to me in Tampa was he had Derrick Brooks in front of him, who’s an easy guy to get along with. Warren Sapp in front of him, who’s not so easy. And Simeon Rice to the right. You go ask any of those three what do you think of Lynch? And all of them will say, 'Best teammate I ever had, toughest dude I’ve ever seen. Ultra-competitive.' So I like the fact that John is one of those guys that have gotten along with and has seen all different types of athletes. He doesn’t see it through 'the way I used to play the game.' That’s not who John is."
Lynch, 45, has no background in scouting or personnel, but he defended his lack of experience in those areas during a conference call Monday night.
"One thing I told (49ers CEO) Jed (York) over and over is that I know what I don't know and I'm not going to profess, I can't tell you that I've had 20 years in front offices working my way up, but what I do know, I know football," Lynch said. "I put my football acumen up with most in this league. I know people, and I know how to lead."
McKay said Lynch’s lack of front office experience won’t hamper him if he relies on the right people.
"I think it will be critical to him because it was critical to me," McKay said. "When I took the job I took (as Bucs GM) and I had no business getting the job. But you know what? The people around me that a lot of other people had written off too, helped me. That’s critical for John when he goes into that organization that the right people get around him that he trust and are going to teach the things he doesn’t know. I think the one thing about John the competitor, to him failure is not an option. We say it a lot of times, but he means it. That’s impressive.
"You've got to let yourself sit back and let that learning curve come. You’ve got to work it and decide that today, maybe I’m not going to pick (this player) but I’m just going to sit and listen. Maybe in a couple years, I’m picking (the player). And you’ve got to let that happen. To me, I used to say, ‘There’s other people that do this and I’m going to take what they have.' Jerry (Angelo) used to say to me,'What you have to be is the governor. Let us argue as senators and then you can take that.' I wasn’t the one who grew up generically in scouting and I wasn’t going to get into a fistfight with you over a player. John is a bright guy. He will adjust and adapt."
Lynch will be paired with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who will be hired as the 49ers head coach following the Super Bowl.
"I really believe in people, and if anyone knows John Lynch, that’s a guy you should believe in," Shanahan said. "He’s been successful in everything he’s done. I think when you take a talented person who’s extremely smart, who’s got as high of a character as anyone you could be around and who truly is passionate about football and working –- if you give someone time like that, they’re going to figure it out and you’re going to be successful."