Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ John Lynch discusses message to Jimmy Garoppolo, the QB’s future, draft rumors, Trey Lance secrecy

May 18, 2021 at 8:33 PM--

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was shocked nothing leaked about the team's draft intentions. No one had any idea what the Niners were planning. That lasted all the way up until when the team was on the clock.

"In today's world, I thought it was one of the great achievements ever because it's so hard to keep things quiet," Lynch told Colin Cowherd on Tuesday.

Even their eventual selection, quarterback Trey Lance, had no idea he was their guy until he received a call from Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan, who welcomed him to the 49ers.

Lynch feels it was a little easier keeping their intentions under lock and key because only he and Shanahan knew who they were targeting following a March 26 trade from No. 12 to No. 3. Even CEO Jed York, the man who signs their checks, didn't know for much of the month between the trade and the selection.

"And that wasn't not trusting our own people," Lynch said. "It actually was in an effort to give the process the due that it deserved. What I'm saying is, fairly early on, Kyle and I had zeroed in on Trey, but I think if everybody in our building knew that, it would be hard to get people's true opinions. I think people's opinions would gravitate towards ours. You try to hire people with conviction and all that, but human nature says that if you're the leaders of the franchise, people, at some point, are going to gravitate.

"We wanted to hear people's real opinions, and we wanted to really give the process the full and thorough process that it deserved, and I think that allowed us to. We didn't want to leave anything to chance. We wanted it to be as thorough as possible.

"There were challenges in the COVID world, but ultimately, we didn't tell -- we told our owner the week of (the draft). We told the people in the draft room, I think, when the second pick was on the board, that that's who we were taking."

Lynch and Shanahan were surprised the secret had lasted that long. They figured, why not go the whole way? There really was no benefit to the 49ers revealing who they were targeting, even though the two selections ahead of them were near certainties.

"We wanted to see it all the way through, and at the end, the motivation was to let Trey hear it first from us, from no one else, because I think that's a great surprise that he'll have with him the rest of his life," Lynch continued.

Cowherd asked Lynch about the rumors that there were conflicting opinions inside the building on who the 49ers should draft. The general manager shot down those reports.

"We were aligned pretty quick on this one," Lynch said. "I think, for a general manager, you obviously have an entry point that's a lot earlier than a head coach because the head coach is coaching his team. Like, I first started watching Trey Lance two years ago, when he was having that great year in [2019]. Then, I think last year in Arizona, we really start focusing in on people."

Most predicted that Mac Jones would be the selection at No. 3, and Lynch admits that the former Alabama quarterback looked impressive. However, neither Lynch nor Shanahan had seen anyone in person, so they still had to do that. Lance was the "leader in the clubhouse," but the two still had to do their due diligence on the other possibilities.

Lynch and Shanahan found it amusing watching people seemingly "make stuff up" about the 49ers' intentions. They also heard all the rumors surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite publicly stating their intention to hold onto the veteran quarterback for the upcoming season, many predicted that a trade might be imminent.

"I think Jimmy's got a really good trust in myself and Kyle," Lynch said. "I think you earn that, and I think from day one, we've been very upfront with Jimmy. When I went to Jimmy, I told him the truth. Like, 'Look, we have made a decision that we're going to pursue a quarterback this offseason. You know, Jimmy, when you've played, you've been tremendous, and the record speaks to that. We feel like there's room for growth. The biggest thing has been it's hard to keep you on the field.'

"That's not an easy thing to tell a player but Jimmy took it tremendously. And my other commitment was, 'But here's the good news, Jimmy. We don't want you to go anywhere. We want you to be here, and our ownership has made the commitment that we can do that. We can fit it in our cap, and we think it's a good situation for you; probably not the one you ultimately want to hear. I'm sure you want to be the long-term guy.' You know what? There's a flip side to that. He still could be because he's going to have a chance to compete and earn that job, and we're just going to let that play out. But Jimmy's a really good football player."

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