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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

At the Combine: John Lynch says having Garoppolo signed before free agency is a ‘huge bonus’ for 49ers

Mar 1, 2018 at 8:44 AM--

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San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch admitted that he probably won't be watching the quarterbacks at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday as carefully as he did last year. That's because the 49ers have their franchise quarterback in place.

After guiding the 49ers to five-straight victories to end the 2017 season, Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year, $137.5 million deal on February 8 to become the team's franchise quarterback. Lynch said that feels good to head to the combine with the quarterback position taken care of.

"I remember it very much -- was just thinking about it over here -- last year, that was a primary focus, finding our guy," Lynch said. "It's one of the first things after Kyle and I got together, we talked about the culture we want to set and all that. But I think we both agreed you have to find that guy at that position. It's of such premium and importance.

"It didn't happen in the draft process last year, but some fortuitous things kind of broke our way during the season. And I really commend Kyle for his patience once we got Jimmy and allowing him to take time to learn the system as best as he could.

"Everybody was saying, 'Play him. Hey, you traded for him, let's play him.' He made sure he was at a spot where we were setting him up for success.

"And then he went in, and we like to say he 'balled out.' He played really well, and he made out team better. Then it became a focus: Let's get him locked up. I think it was a deal that worked out for everyone and I think we're very appreciative to Jimmy, Don Yee, and his team that we were able to do it so swiftly.

RELATED Kyle Shanahan evaluates 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo and his importance to free agency

"I think that's a huge bonus for us that we have him locked up going into free agency. I think it makes it a place where a lot of people want to be, and we're excited about that."

When asked about using Garoppolo as a recruiting tool for potential free agents, Lynch responded, "Wouldn't you?"

At this point last year, the 49ers didn't have a quarterback under contract. The team decided not to bring back any of the quarterbacks from the previous regime and instead wanted to shape the position the way they wanted to.

"What's even more liberating is having Jimmy under contract," Lynch added.

Lynch also reflected on the scouting process for Garoppolo, which started very early in his 49ers tenure with head coach Kyle Shanahan. The two sat down together and reviewed film at every position. When it came to the various clips of quarterbacks, Garoppolo kept showing up.

"That tape, I kept watching," Lynch said. "The physical skills were noticeable. His ability to quickly get rid of the ball efficiently and accurately and all those things. So we started watching more. There wasn't a whole lot to watch, but what you watched, you really liked."

What traits attracted the 49ers to Garoppolo?

"I think the physical traits," Lynch answered. "He can really quickly process and get rid of the football in a fashion that I would say is elite. Then you go to study the makeup of the guy. The only way to do that is to see him around his teammates. To me, the best leaders, the best quarterbacks, they make everyone around them better."

Lynch saw that during Garoppolo's starts for the 49ers. With Garoppolo at quarterback, coupled with young players having more experience and others getting healthy, the team got better.

"There's no mistaking that when he came in and started playing, it lifted our team and it lifted everyone around him," Lynch said.


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