Jack Dempsey-AP

Jack Dempsey-AP



San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York sent shock waves through the football world when he hired former player and current Fox Sports broadcaster John Lynch as the next general manager of his franchise. The move came completely out of left field and left most people in shock as Lynch hadn't been reported as being a candidate at any point during the process.

On the surface, the decision to put Lynch in charge is a strange move, especially considering he has zero front office experience. Lynch, a Stanford grad, is smart, engaging and well thought of in football circles, but that doesn't mean he can run a football team. Still, this hire might just be the kind of outside the box thinking the 49ers desperately needed. The problem is, it's York making the decision so everyone is, naturally, a little skeptical.

Think about it this way, though: what if a team like the Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers made a hire like this? While some would question how it would work out, many would have faith in the move because those organizations tend to make good decisions more often than not. The current version of the 49ers don't fall into that category, however, so York making what could amount to a forward thinking, visionary hire will be met with nothing but skepticism. Obviously, York has no one but himself to blame for that.

But let's try and get into the head of York, and attempt to figure out what would have led to Lynch getting the nod. First and foremost, any decision that's made these days with the Niners will be greatly influenced (and maybe even decided by) incoming head coach Kyle Shanahan. Make no mistake, Shanahan has been the big fish for some time now, and he will have significant say throughout the organization as long as he's the coach. San Francisco isn't exactly the most alluring franchise to work for these days, so the promise of power and roster control (to at least some extent) had to be part of the package.

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So, in turn, working well with Shanahan was essential, and everyone involved must have felt Lynch was a great fit in that regard. But just because someone's easy to work with, doesn't mean they can build a football team. The way I see that issue playing itself out is that Lynch, completely aware of his shortcomings, will build a solid staff around him to help make personnel decisions. Names of former general managers like Mark Dominik and Dennis Hickey have been floated around, and Lynch will also reportedly keep Tom Gamble in place to help as well. Oh, and Shanahan will certainly have his say in matters.

When you connect the dots, it almost looks like Lynch was brought on board to be sort of a figurehead within the franchise, and is seen as someone who will promote and bring stability. The organization has been so dysfunctional for so long, the idea of someone as a caretaker is actually quite appealing.

Trying to predict how Lynch will ultimately perform in his new role is almost impossible to do, as the only real way to judge him will be to see how he does over time. The NFL has seen former players with limited experience step in and do well before, most notably John Elway with the Denver Broncos. It's also had former players crash and burn, however, as Matt Millen's stint with the Detroit Lions was a disaster. All indications are that Lynch would be more of an Elway than a Millen, but again, who knows at this point?

If there's anything positive to take away from this right now, it's that York's head seems to be in the right place, as evinced from his statements to Sports Illustrated's Peter King.

"We understand we'll have to live with growing pains," York told King. "but I'm willing to do that because I believe the upside with both of them (Lynch and Shanahan) is so great."

This statement shows York understands this is a massive rebuild, and it's going to take a while to come to fruition. By reportedly giving both Lynch and Shanahan six-year deals, he's committing to the process, which is a very "non-York" thing to do. Fans of the 49ers should be encouraged by this, as York seems to be finally (at least on the surface) committed to doing what is necessary to turn his franchise around. Will it work? Only time will tell, but the current vision could be an exciting one to watch unfold.

Al Sacco has been covering the 49ers since 2013 and has had his work used by national outlets such as ESPN and USA TODAY. If you'd like to reach Al with a media request, please contact him via Twitter @AlSacco49