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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Reuben Foster situation taught 49ers GM John Lynch a tough lesson

May 21, 2021 at 6:39 AM--

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John Lynch brings his experience as a player to the general manager job with the San Francisco 49ers. It's something that head coach Kyle Shanahan encouraged him to lean on when first taking on the role in 2017. Shanahan didn't want Lynch to hide from it and felt it would help him with his job if he made an effort to get close to the players, as he was used to doing.

It's worked because the players respect Lynch. They also aren't afraid to be open with him, which helps Lynch make better decisions for the team.

"I do think it's very helpful. You lived it," Lynch told Michael Robinson and Bucky Brooks on the latest NFL Total Access: The Locker Room podcast. "You know what's it's like to be a player and the challenges asked of them. And you'd better have a really mentally tough person because the NFL's hard. There's nothing easy about it. That's what makes it so great, in my mind."

That doesn't mean things always work out perfectly. Lynch has learned some tough lessons along the way. One example of those lessons resulted from the ordeal involving linebacker Reuben Foster. San Francisco drafted the talented defender at No. 31 overall in 2017. By the next year, he was off the team due to multiple off-the-field issues.

"I don't say that anything is a mistake, but I had so much belief in Reuben Foster and my ability to get to him," Lynch shared. "'OK, if he's got some issues, I can help this young man out. I can be the one. I'm not playing anymore. I'm in the GM seat. I can put resources around him,' and all those things, but I think, probably, I've learned some tough lessons that that's going to be hard to have that kind of influence and have that kind of connection because I'm not his teammate anymore. I'm actually in a different role."

"... Reuben's a fine young man, went through some tough things. I don't mean to put him out there like that, but that's an instance where I probably, my experience, feeling like, 'You know what? I can get to him.' Sometimes you can't. Or you can't make a situation better because of the dynamics involved."

You can listen to the entire interview with Lynch below.

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