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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports


Brian Billick calls John Lynch ‘brilliant’

Jan 30, 2017 at 11:19 AM


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Former Baltimore Ravens head coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick is a highly respected television personality. Billick joined "Good Morning Football" on Monday to discuss the surprise hiring of former NFL safety and FOX analyst John Lynch as the new general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.

The hiring has been a bit of a controversial one among the media. Lynch has no front office experience, but was a fierce competitor on the field and is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In a week, he will likely be joined by a new head coach in Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. While there has been some criticism of the hire, there have also been many who are praising the move. Many of those are individuals who know Lynch or have worked with him. Billick was among those to praise Lynch.

"John is brilliant," Billick said. "I was at Stanford when we brought John in. We made the brilliant move of taking him from a quarterback and Denny Green made him a safety. In my opinion, a Hall of Fame safety. And John's smart and he knows the game. I think this is about he and Kyle Shanahan. I don't know for a fact, but I've got to believe there's a relationship there, that they're trying to piece that together. They just came out of a contentious general manager. They're looking for that marriage to come in."

Billick on Lynch: 'John is brilliant'

Billick went on to say that Lynch's experience as a television analyst will be an asset for his on-the-job training as a first-year general manager. "I'm done with coaching, but if I were to go back into coaching, I'd be better for it because of the five years I spent doing games for FOX," Billick said. "Every Friday, we're in a different facility talking to players, coaches, some instances getting to sit in meetings, watching them practice, visiting with general managers. Can you imagine – I do a lot of corporate speaking – getting to sit in the boardroom with your competition and seeing what is important to them?"

Peter Schrager brought up the fact that, just three weeks ago, Lynch did a production meeting with now division rival Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. "And I can imagine John, with this in the back of his mind, probably did his due diligence to kind of (ask), 'How do you do this? How do you do that?' We'll see."

"You've got someone that's new at this, which is not all bad. It's kind of an outside the box, okay. Plus, I'm sure he'll lean on a guy like [Denver Broncos general manager] John Elway. John came in from the outside and (Lynch may ask), 'How did you start? What's the priority?' Putting together that structure. His eye for talent and how he's going to deal with the coaches, John and Kyle will be great with that."

As many, like Peter King of TheMMQ, have already pointed out, Billick said that Lynch will have to surround himself with a good group in order to see success. It was reported by Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area that 49ers assistant general manager Tom Gamble, who has been leading the scouting department since the firing of Trent Baalke, will be given through the draft in April to prove himself to Lynch. Another name that has emerged is former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager and ESPN analyst Mark Dominik, who may be brought in as the 49ers' director of player personnel or in an equivalent role, per Pro Football Talk.

Dominik was the director of pro scouting with Tampa Bay when Lynch played there and when Shanahan was brought in as the offensive quality control coordinator. Lynch was actually the one who contacted Shanahan about the possibility of working together and the pair met with each other on Friday when Lynch flew to Atlanta with 49ers CEO Jed York and chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe.

"Nothing is guaranteed, but so many opportunities are missed in the NFL because people don't want to do something different," York said late Sunday night via TheMMQ. "We're okay with that, because I am confident in Kyle and John. John has watched John Elway, and how he's built a team in Denver. As easy as it is to say he hasn't built a team yet—I get that—I talk to Kyle, and he says John is the most prepared of all the TV [people] he meets in the production meetings before games. We understand we'll have to live with growing pains, but I'm willing to do that because I believe the upside with both of them is so great."
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