Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch shares how his mind was changed on Joe Williams

May 1, 2017 at 10:30 AM--

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch, who on Saturday just completed his first NFL Draft, joined "Murph & Mac" on KNBR on Monday to discuss the whole process.

Lynch discussed the trade up to select Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard at the end of Day 2 of the draft. He then went on to discuss the 49ers' next selection – running back Joe Williams out of Utah.

This morning, Peter King of The MMQB posted a fantastic article about the experience within the 49ers draft room. The article has generated a ton of buzz and within it, King revealed that it was head coach Kyle Shanahan who really wanted Williams and that Lynch needed some convincing. Williams was not on the 49ers' draft board. Yet, when the selection in the fourth round came around, Shanahan revisited the idea of selecting him.

"I'm telling you right now: If we don't get him, I'll be sick," Shanahan said the night before the selection. "I will be contemplating Joe Williams all night."

According to King, Lynch lost sleep over that statement. "I had a really hard time sleeping the night before and let me tell you, I was exhausted," Lynch told King. Williams didn't exactly fit all of the traits that Lynch was looking for in football players. He had quit football and had some other issues while in college. However, Shanahan's insistence on selecting Williams forced Lynch to give the Utah running back a call on Saturday morning.

"It was dead," Lynch told King. "No chance. I wasn't interested. But I knew how Kyle felt, so I figured I should at least talk to him. When I got in, I called him. When I got him on the phone, I said to him, 'Joe, to be honest, I was done with you.'"

During the conversation, Williams changed Lynch's mind. The 49ers general manager was stunned by Williams' forthright admissions, decided to take a chance, and moved up to select the running back.

"I think I've really got to give a big 'thank you' to Kyle for resurrecting Joe Williams," Lynch said on KNBR. "We came to this thing late as a group. I came to it late and so our preparation was extremely thorough but I'm just going to be honest – when I heard the story the first time, he quit on his team, I said, 'Throw him out.' I watched 10 plays and I said, 'Get rid of him.' Somewhere in the process, Kyle threw on the tape and started seeing some big time ability here with Joe Williams after he came back from his hiatus from the Utah team. Kyle started showing me that film and I agreed.

"I agreed wholeheartedly on the talent but I said, 'Kyle, that doesn't change the fact (that he quit on his team).' And he said, 'Well, let's look more into the situation. Bobby Turner, our running back coach, had been remaining in touch with the young man. We continued to vet the process."

Lynch said that he reached out to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham to discuss Williams. While boarding a plane to head to the draft, Whittingham said, "He did not quit the team. He was physically and mentally exhausted. He was worn down. So he came in, the young man, looking for help and we made a conscious decision together that he should take a break and that's exactly what he did."

You can listen to the entire interview on KNBR.

In his article, King revealed what Lynch felt was at the root of Williams' problems. King wrote the following:

"In 2007, when Williams was 13, his sister died of a heart ailment, and Joe Williams felt the burden was with him, because on the night she died, he was with her and fell asleep when she fell gravely ill. He was destroyed, distraught, and ignored his pain, and as he discovered later, the bottling up of his pain caused extreme distress. He was diagnosed with manic depression."

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