When John Lynch was introduced to the world as the new general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, most of the world kind of shook their collective heads, or just let out a collective “huh?” There was a good reason for that at the time. When he retired from the game that saw him as a nine-time Pro-Bowler in 2008, we saw him for just about the next nine years being a color commentator for FOX. Last time we saw somebody do something similar to this was the disastrous Matt Millen to the Lions ordeal. Matt Millen was viewed much like Lynch is – a smart player on and off the field, has an eye for talent, so on and so forth. . .
Lynch is different though. For the 49ers sake, he must be.
Lynch knows what it takes to build a Super Bowl team because he was on one in 2002 with the Bucs. He knows what kind of personalities will work with each other, the necessity of comradery in the locker room and of course, the kind of coach needed. This is why the hiring of Kyle Shanahan should have come as no surprise. Much like John Gruden, Lynch’s head coach during his day’s in Tampa Bay – Gruden is an offensive minded coach, who is a “quarterback – whisperer” of sorts – much like Shanahan. Shanahan’s demeanor can at times remind folks of Gruden as many have mentioned how Shanahan’s ego is a bit, well – out there.
The “Great Heist of the 2017 Draft” was a perfectly drawn up by Lynch and his associates, who pretty much “hoodwinked” the Chicago Bears into trading then two third round picks (one of which is for 2018) and a fourth round pick – and only moved down one spot. Lynch was able to get the player he wanted originally in Stamford defensive linemen Solomon Thomas. They also traded back into the first round to select Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. His initial draft was a success with a focus on the defense – Ahkello Witherspoon is an athletic 6’3″ cornerback out of Colorado and in the seventh round they may have found a steal in safety Adrian Colbert, who ran a 4.38 in the combine. If Colbert, may be a steal, Lynch’s fourth-round pick, running back Joe Williams out of Utah is definitely a steal.
Remember, this is only the draft.
Lynch, decided to keep a focus on the side of the ball he’s most familiar with… Lynch, 45, years old isn’t too far removed from a “rougher” NFL but has also seen the transition of, let’s just say a “different” NFL. Shanahan has developed successful offenses in this NFL and truth be known, it’s easier to get an offensive system input then it is for defense. Sure, this season is pretty much a wash for San Francisco – you’ll see a lot of Carlos Hyde and you should see a lot of the rookie Williams as well.
Let’s look at the rest of this division for a second.
The Cardinals: They have talent, but last year was a bit scary to see if you’re a Cardinals fan. Things just weren’t working out well for them and it’s apparent Carson Palmer is on the wrong side of 37. . .
The Rams: Are terrible.
The Seahawks: Let’s be honest. Aren’t they just a ‘tad bit’ over-rated these days. Nobody is scared of the Legion of Boom like they used to be, and with rumors circulating that Richard Sherman was on the trading block, it seems Seattle isn’t too fond of it either. All of their young talent that helped build that team up under Pete Carroll (including coordinators) have gone off for bigger paychecks. The NFC West is their division by default.
Okay, back to the Niners.
Looking ahead to 2018, the 49ers will have money to spend and there are free agents who might find it intriguing to land in San Francisco. It’s already been mentioned that Kirk Cousins will run to San Fran once his time is done in Washington, but another option might be New England’s Jimmy Garappolo. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffrey and Terrelle Pryor are both playing on one-year “prove you’re real” deals and they could both be pleasant options as well. There are a couple of veteran offensive linemen available in 2018 who might want to play in a Shanahan offense – Johnathan Cooper, Nate Solder and Greg Robinson to name a few.
Remember, in the NFL, fortunes can flip within a year in any given division. Seeing already how the 49ers are positioning themselves, it would not be hard to believe, if in three years – maybe even two – the NFC West belongs to the gold-diggers out of San Fran.