Stability in the NFL is key, and the San Francisco 49ers took a strong step toward stability with John Lynch’s new extension.
The legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Denver Bronco has turned his post-playing career into something special, and the report from NFL’s Mike Garafolo that the 49ers’ general manager has landed an extension is proof.
The #49ers have agreed to terms on a multi-year contract extension with GM John Lynch, sources say. They’re buttoning up the language on the deal, which is expected to span five years in all. An outside-the-box hire, Lynch is on to his second contract.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 29, 2020
When Lynch was brought to Santa Clara, California back in 2017, there were understandable questions. Unproven as a general manager, the nine-time Pro Bowler had to adapt and show that he could lead an NFL front office.
Just over three years since being hired, San Francisco was in the Super Bowl, boasted a 13-3 record, and more importantly, has a roster to continue vying for a championship.
So, what went right?
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Nailing Down the Draft
No GM ever has a perfect draft record, it’s just impossible. But if one were to rank NFL GMs’ draft capabilities under Lynch, he’d be high up the list.
However, the 49ers’ first two picks under Lynch, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and out-of-the NFL linebacker Reuben Foster, are disappointing in hindsight.
The makeup? Tight end George Kittle, wide receiver Trent Taylor and defensive lineman D.J. Jones all are still with the team, and have varied from important role players to the best player at his position in the case of Kittle.
In 2018, the additions of Mike McGlinchey and Fred Warner are most notable, but players like safety Tavarius Moore, defensive tackle Kentavius Street and corner D.J. Reed have all been important depth options in the past two years.
In last year’s draft, Lynch went with the obvious home-run of defensive end Nick Bosa but also hit on wide receiver Deebo Samuel and may have found another late-round diamond with linebacker Dre Greenlaw. If Jalen Hurd becomes the offensive weapon many expect, then the 2019 NFL Draft will only grow in value for San Francisco.
Trading and Free Agency
Teams that rely on big money contracts and free agents never seem to build a quality team, but teams that can’t add to their core draftees don’t either.
Lynch has done a bit of both, evidenced by the last two offseasons. This year, the trade to the Indianapolis Colts to maximize the value of DeForest Buckner’s departure led to the encouraging and sensible pick of Javon Kinlaw, ensuring that the 49ers maintain young talent at one of their best areas.
Another trade of note was last year’s landing former Kansas City Chief Dee Ford, who has produced when healthy and still has a lot of value for the team, while the 49ers only gave up a second-round pick to ensure a tenacious pass-rusher.
Then the retaining of lead running back Raheem Mostert and safety Jimmie Ward both in 2019 and 2020. Lynch knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl from his days in Tampa, and that’s building a core and strengthening it with key additions and re-signings.
Although reports of Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan having “friction” was shot down by all parties, it’s also privy to something important: competition and winning.
No Super Bowl-winning team has gone the process without “friction.” It’s inevitable, and its important to creating pressure and a sense of drive.
Lynch has long been known for exuding that mentality, and his time with the 49ers is no different. Players have often stood behind his decisions as well as complimented his time and presence invested around the team facilities.
This all focuses more on the intangibles, but channeling a mindset and intangibles into success is what’s most important. At the current juncture, John Lynch has done just that.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.