Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


John Lynch talks free agency, Harbaugh, Kaepernick, more

Feb 13, 2017 at 10:47 AM--


Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Steve Mariucci, and Jim Harbaugh. Those were the names who new San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan identified when he talked about being included with the team's former greats. Harbaugh's name was an interesting inclusion because 49ers CEO Jed York, the man who fired Harbaugh, was sitting right next to Shanahan when he said it. York has been widely criticized for that firing following the 2014 season and has been unwilling to admit to the media that the move may have been a mistake. So it was interesting to hear an acknowledgment of the former 49ers coach who is still well-respected among 49ers fans and helped build a team good enough to get York's shiny new stadium built in Santa Clara.

New 49ers general manager John Lynch went on The TK Show with Tim Kawakami on Friday and was asked about the mention of Harbaugh. "Shoot, Jim Harbaugh is a heck of a football coach," Lynch said. "I watched him at USD, tiny USD. I remember my dad coming home – my dad was on the board at USD – and he said, 'John, this Harbaugh guy's crazy.' I said, 'What do you mean, Dad?' 'He came into the board today and said get us Notre Dame. We'll beat them. Get us San Diego State.' He always wanted the next guy.

"And then he came to Stanford. I had a great affinity for Jim. He used to do this deal where he'd bring guys in to be captains, honorary captains and speak to the team, and I did that on two occasions for him. So I really got to know and respect and see what he did and what he did here. Yeah, he's a heck of a football coach. He's part of the history here. Like everything else, that's just what it is and we're not going to hide from that."

Free Agency


Lynch was also asked about his strategy in free agency, which begins next month. As an answer to the question, he shared from his own experience. In August of 2008, Lynch agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, just prior to his retirement. He never played a regular season game for New England.

"One of the things that I learned as a free agent, Tim, is that you better find – and I sought out a lot of advice – and no matter how good of a player you are, the old saying, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks," Lynch said. "At the end of my career, I went to New England. It was a completely different system than I had ever played in. I had been a one-gap guy my entire career. They were a two-gap guy. So for safeties, that's a much different fit. They had me playing some linebacker. That was different for me. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia, who then was the linebacker coach, and Dean Pees, who was the coordinator, they were great because one thing I learned, they said, 'Listen, you're playing linebacker. If you want to walk up like you're a safety, we don't care where you start. Just get there.'

"But it did introduce me to – I think sometimes I think it's easier for a rookie who doesn't have all this information in their head to come in and say, 'Okay, this is what I'm being asked to do.' When you have 15 years worth of – or 10 years worth of information, it's tough to adapt to a new scheme. So I think having played and been a free agent myself lets me know you better have guys who fit really well what you do. It's not as easy as saying, 'He's a great player here. He's going to be a great player here.'"

Head Coach-General Manager Relationship


Lynch was asked what he and Shanahan were trying to model themselves after. His answer pointed north to a division rival. "The one that Kyle and I talked a lot about is one of our competitors, what's going on up in Seattle. Even some of that language, you know, 'subject to the approval of the head coach.' Those types of things. It's a copycat league and when something's working, I think they have great harmony.

"I've been up at Seattle a bunch as a broadcaster. When you walk in that building, there's a real positive vibe. Because you get the sense that everyone's together. They speak the same language. I think it's reflected in that relationship at the top, from Paul Allen on down and I think that worked really well. It's worked very well. It was a model we said, 'Let's try to emulate.'"

Birth of Lynch's GM Candidacy


Lynch went on to share the story of how his candidacy for the general manager job with the 49ers started. He remembered calling Kyle Shanahan at the end of an Atlanta Falcons playoff game to congratulate him on the victory. The two started talking. Shanahan was asking his opinion about assistant coaches because, as a broadcaster, he has been around and knows the league. After a while, Shanahan said, "You're pretty good at this."

That's when the conversation shifted to Lynch's interest in being a general manager. Shanahan called him back later and said, "I can't stop thinking about this. Would you entertain the idea?" A call was set up between Lynch and York and the rest is history.

Colin Kaepernick


Lynch was asked about the national anthem protest by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and if it bothered him at all. "He's been in a news a lot," Lynch said. "There's no doubt about that. I think, like a lot of people, (I have) kind of mixed views on it. I respect the heck out of him for finding a stance that's important to him and for maybe not doing the popular thing. I think that's important that people feel the right.

"I'll also say, Tim, I'm a very patriotic individual. I love our country. I think we're blessed to live in this country and I'd be lying to you if I didn't say part of it bothered me. I feel like maybe there was a more productive way to do it but I do, at the same time, respect Colin for the stance he took. I think one thing that I've been very cognizant of, regardless of all of that and I think, like I said, I'm very split on it, I've got to evaluate the film. That's part of the job now. Put your feelings aside on how you feel. Now at the same time, I told you, quarterback, you're looking at the complete picture – as you are with any player. But I won't let any feelings that I have on that cloud my decision making nor Kyle won't as well."

Lynch went on to say that he considers Kaepernick a friend and is really looking forward to sitting down with him.

You can listen to the entire interview from Friday on The TK Show podcast.



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