In the hire that surprised much of the NFL world, Jed York and the San Francisco 49ers have hired a former Pro Bowl player with no front office experience in John Lynch as their general manager. While some see this move as having similar risk to when Matt Millen was hired as GM of the Detroit Lions, others question whether a 6 year contract is too much for an inexperienced GM such as John Lynch. Either way, the 49ers and Jed York have gone all in on the John Lynch/ Kyle Shanahan package deal, and their fates will be tied to this package for better or worse.
So how did we get this curveball of a hire when most beat reporters were focused on reported top candidates for 49ers GM, George Paton, Terry McDonough or Mark Dominik? Occam’s razor states that sometimes the correct explanation is the simplest one and when applied to this situation, we might hypothesize that no top, experienced candidate wanted to take a GM position that ceded significant power over the draft and personnel to the head coach. Add to that fact the reality that Jed York manages these situations by leaks to the media to give a perception that might not be rooted in reality, one can make more sense as to how this happened the way that it did.
Other dynamics that allow us to make more sense of this in hindsight is that John Lynch played most of his career under Kyle Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan, and has been vocal about his support of Kyle Shanahan as a head coach:
During Falcons-Seahawks game John Lynch said of Kyle Shanahan:
“I’d be hiring that guy in a second.”
— Guy Haberman (@GuyHaberman) January 30, 2017
It has been reported that Kyle Shanahan’s contingencies have included control over the draft, personnel and even selection of the GM. These contingencies also make sense as to why he might choose a young, unproven GM in John Lynch, because those exact traits will be more compatible with facilitating a good working dynamic with a young head coach with significant power relative to other head coaches in the league. Similarly, it may take a young, hungry and inexperienced GM candidate to want this job, and Adam Shefter has confirmed that it was Lynch’s idea to campaign for this position and that he called Shanahan a week before to offer his services. That is the kind of flexibility and humility that would be appealing to a young, first-time head coach who is lobbying for significant control over personnel.
Just as 49ers gave GM John Lynch 6-year contract, plan is to offer Kyle Shanahan a 6-year deal, per sources. SF wants HC-GM tied together.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 30, 2017
Whether John Lynch ends up having what it takes to be a GM and work well with Kyle Shanahan as HC is yet to be seen, but by virtue of the 6 year contract that is reportedly going to be offered to both Lynch and Shanahan, this is Jed York and the 49ers shoving all of their chips to the middle of the table on a bet that this package deal pays off on the long run. For the sake of the 49ers and their fans, let’s hope this risk ends up being one worth taking.