Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports


John Lynch Must Be Everything Baalke Wasn’t

Jan 31, 2017 at 7:12 AM


It's been two days, and fans are still wrapping their heads around the notion that John Lynch is the new general manager of the 49ers.

He seemed like nothing more than a name York pulled from a hat on Sunday night. He wasn't one of the finalists, and he has absolutely no experience in an NFL front office. Still, here he is – a dark horse candidate winning a race few knew he was running.

I'll say this much for York: he's full of surprises.

This is the offseason York wanted – after giving fans two abysmal seasons in the wake of firing Harbaugh, it's boom-or-bust for Jed. The first gamble was zeroing in on a head coach before finding a general manager. The second was waiting until February to hire said coach; a dangerous move on York's part that will pay dividends when Shanahan takes the job. The last gamble? Rolling the dice yet again on an untested commodity in Lynch.

The risk is continued failure and greater embarrassment for players and fans. The reward is a general manager who bears little resemblance to Lynch's predecessor.

During his tenure, Trent Baalke isolated himself with the power of his position. His unilateral approach to decision-making led to the hiring of Jim Tomsula, and an unwillingness to accept input from coaches in the draft led to an unsatisfactory on-field product. His was a leadership style disinclined to hear dissenting voices and learn from mistakes; it alienated fans and coaches before alienating Baalke from employment. At best, Baalke was a hindrance to progress. At worst, he actively reversed the progress others made. York was an accomplice to it by empowering him, but as we've been told – you can't fire owners, you can only hope they figure things out.

This is where Lynch's inexperience can work to his advantage if we buy into everything we've been told. On Monday, Peter King noted that Lynch is a man who "knows his limitations." It's lost on no one that analysts jumping from the broadcast booth to the front office have failed in the past. Matt Millen's ineptitude in Detroit serves as a warning to all who would look to the media for organizational leadership. However, Lynch has no interest in repeating Detroit's history.

Surrounding Lynch with qualified scouts and advisers will be key to preventing further disaster for the 49ers, and Lynch is already at work gathering talent in Santa Clara. Previous staff will be retained during the offseason, but Lynch has already used the connections at his disposal to hire Adam Peters from Denver, and rumors continue to surround Mark Dominik's link to Lynch. It points back to what Peter King said – Lynch, fortunately, knows what he doesn't know and recognizes his deficiencies. When inexperience is matched with self-awareness and the right amount of humility, the result can be greater than the sum of its non-existent parts.

It's a small sample size – less than 48 hours – but it hints at the vast differences between Baalke and Lynch. York has inundated fans with his newfound belief in communication between head coach and general manager, but Lynch's ability to maintain relationships within the franchises he played for is a testament to his skill with people.

Why is this important? The general manager is the point where ownership, personnel, and coaching meet. Negotiation is constant, and balancing between these disparate groups is key. Lynch has navigated the egos and competitive personalities that populate the NFL and he's done it well. Baalke was always hamstrung by his own personality in this area. Managing internal conflict is essential to establishing and maintaining success, and Baalke did neither well. After all, it's difficult to resolve conflict when you're the source of it.

Much has been made and will be made of Lynch's connection to Bill Walsh when he played at Stanford, and much will be made of his rapport with Shanahan. Those attempts to connect the 49ers' future with San Francisco's storied history are the smallest fraction of what Lynch can offer if he lives up to his potential as a facilitator and mediator in the front office. More important than any faint connection to the Walsh-era 49ers is a hasty retreat from Baalke's approach.

It's another wait-and-see situation for fans who have been waiting and seen little to celebrate in recent seasons. This time, however, there's the faint glimmer of promise to help pass the time.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • NinerGM
    "When inexperience is matched with self-awareness and the right amount of humility, the result can be greater than the sum of its non-existent parts." - This is one of the most brilliant lines I've read here in an article for Webzone. This is what makes a good leader regardless of experience. Every boss will tell you he'd rather have someone who's smart and can learn the job versus someone who knows the job but can't grow beyond the minimal requirements for doing the work. Intelligence, humility, awareness will always take you as far as you want to go.
    Feb 1, 2017 at 7:56 AM
    2
  • Steve
    Don't forget we still have Tom Gamble in the building!
    Feb 1, 2017 at 3:50 AM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Richard Sherman describes conversations with John Lynch about leaving 49ers as 'fantastic'

By David Bonilla
Feb 23, 2021

Richard Sherman plans to play for another team in 2021. It sounds like the San Francisco 49ers expect that to happen, too. The veteran cornerback will hit free agency next month, and the Niners will move forward without him. The team has a reduced salary-cap to deal with and several tough decisions to make, making Sherman set to become a cap casualty. Cris Collinsworth recently asked Sherman what that conversation with general manager John Lynch was like. The defender says there is no animosity between the two sides. Sherman, who acts as his own agent and is part of the NFLPA executive committee, understands professional football's business side. That is allowing the two sides to part amicably. "Honestly, it was fantastic. It was business-like," Sherman told



'I really believe that Jimmy is our guy': John Lynch has no doubt Garoppolo will be the 49ers' QB

By David Bonilla
Feb 24, 2021

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was fairly blunt when talking about quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in January. "As for the quarterback position, Kyle (Shanahan) and I both have spoken, and spoken fairly directly as to the fact that we expect Jimmy to be our quarterback," Lynch told reporters during an end-of-season press conference. "That's consistently met with other stories, but that's not of concern to us." That hasn't stopped a significant amount of speculation surrounding the quarterback's future. The 49ers have been linked to nearly every quarterback trade rumor. They reportedly inquired about Matthew Stafford and Carson Wentz, but there is no



Schrager on John Lynch's comments about 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 'What else is he supposed to say?'

By David Bonilla
Feb 25, 2021

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch made headlines on Wednesday with his comments about Jimmy Garoppolo. As many continue to speculate about the quarterback's future, wondering if Lynch and company will look to upgrade the position, the general manager offered up yet another vote of confidence in Garoppolo. Lynch, appearing on the Eye Test for Two podcast, was asked if there is any doubt that Garoppolo is the team's quarterback in September, should he be injury-free. "No," Lynch responded. "Not at all. I really believe that." Lynch noted that availability is a concern, but the entire roster was impacted by injuries last season, not



10 impactful 49ers March moves in the Lynch-Shanahan era

By Kirk Larrabee
Feb 21, 2021

The month of March is just over a week away, which means the 49ers may soon do something that will have a profound impact on their team for years to come. It's not much of a stretch to expect that to happen, at least based on what the team has done during the month of March in the four years that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have been together. The 49ers have made a slew of March roster moves in that time, some of which made major headlines across the NFL. A few of those moves paid off for the 49ers, while others have had little or no impact -- or have even been impactful in a negative way. Here's a look back at ten March moves in particular that left a positive or negative mark (or both). 10. Signing defensive end


Featured

More by Michael Fitch

More Articles

Share 49erswebzone