Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

49ers take a huge gamble with John Lynch as general manager

The 49ers are a long, long way from the glory days of Bill Walsh, Joe Montana and Steve Young. Even the far more recent revival under Jim Harbaugh is a fading memory now.

Their plan for attempting to recapture that glory is to pair a first-time NFL head coach with a novice NFL general manager.

Will it work?

It will be fascinating to find out. But the Niners' follies in recent years don't afford them the luxury of receiving the benefit of the doubt.

The 49ers are hiring John Lynch, the former nine-time Pro Bowl safety for the Bucs and Broncos, as their GM, the team said Sunday night. Lynch has been working for Fox an NFL analyst, and ESPN.

Lynch will be paired with Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator of the Falcons who is to become the Niners' head coach after next Sunday's Super Bowl.

Shanahan clearly is ready to be an NFL head coach after overseeing the league's highest-scoring offense this season.

Lynch, a finalist for possible election Saturday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was known as a student of the game as a player. He has become a respected analyst, a role which has kept him close to the sport and familiar with current players.

But running a front office will be new to Lynch, and sitting in the big head coaching chair will be new to Shanahan.

They presumably will be given time and allowed to make some mistakes. ESPN reported that Lynch is to receive a six-year contract. This is essentially a start-over project. Shanahan follows two head coaches, Jim Tomsula and then Chip Kelly, who lasted only one season each. There is no franchise quarterback in sight, although the 49ers have the second overall selection in the draft.

Jed York, the team's chief executive officer, and former GM Trent Baalke failed to make things work with Harbaugh, then failed to win with Tomsula and Kelly. York decided to clean house after this season by firing Baalke as well as Kelly.

The 49ers were wise to wait for Shanahan. He is more than ready for his head coaching chance.

The decision to hire Lynch probably will end up being either brilliant outside-the-box thinking or a total fiasco. It is unlikely that there will be a middle-ground result.

The new decision-making team starts out way behind in its preparations for next season. Shanahan must hire a staff. Preparations must be made for free agency and the draft, something that began in earnest for other teams last week by having their coaches and GM, among other key staffers, on hand to scout draft-eligible players at the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.

Shanahan also must deal with the questions from reporters this week in Houston about the 49ers' situation as well as those about the Falcons' offense and the game. It is a hectic time indeed for him.

And an extremely intriguing time for the 49ers.

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