Urgency, not friction, seems to be the operative word for the 49ers

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As the draft ended and the question became whether, and when, any General Managers will be specifically targeted for replacement, a report emerged that some degree of tension exists between 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and G.M. John Lynch.

Shanahan quickly dismissed the claim as “complete bullsh-t” (as opposed to saying, “Wow, that’s right, you got me”), and the notion that Shanahan and Lynch are careening toward a divorce seems to be misplaced.

That doesn’t mean there’s isn’t urgency. Surely, there is. With two disappointing campaigns (last year’s disaster came amid unreasonably high preseason expectations) tacked onto three straight subpar seasons, the 49ers find themselves stuck in a half-decade of underachievement. Shanahan and Lynch have been aboard for two of them, and they have four years left on their six-year contracts, which are fully guaranteed with no offset language.

After firing three coaches in three years, the 49ers needed stability. They now have it, and they’re not likely to abandon it so soon. Even if things haven’t gone as well as expected.

It doesn’t mean Shanahan is thrilled with Lynch’s performance. But there were bound to be growing pains, given that Lynch came straight from the broadcast booth to the front office.

Mistakes were inevitable; in the first year, Lynch didn’t know he needed to know, and he didn’t know what he didn’t know. How could he? That led to the organization erroneously puffing its 2017 draft, crowing that the 49ers got the guy they would have taken at No. 2 after trading down to No. 3 (Solomon Thomas) and that they got the guy they would have taken at No. 3 if the guy they wanted was gone at No. 31 (Reuben Foster). Both guys have been disasters relative to their expectations, with Foster cut after multiple off-field incidents for which there were red flags and Thomas on the trade block before the draft (the team has denied that, because of course they do).

While we’re not buying the denial of the shopping of Thomas, we’ll buy the denial of the potential that Shanahan and Lynch are already on the outs. With Shanahan finagling full control over the roster when he got the job, his ability to hire executives under contract with other teams was dramatically limited, giving him few options at G.M. Those limited options were destined to have inherent limitations. And Shanahan can’t be surprised that, two years in, those limitations have had consequences.

The question becomes, now that Shanahan and Lynch have two full seasons and three offseason together, what comes next? How much has Lynch learned? How much more adversity can the relationship bear? A season that results in a postseason appearance would go a long way toward ensuring that Shanahan and Lynch draw closer. Another season of disappointment could begin to push them apart.

26 responses to “Urgency, not friction, seems to be the operative word for the 49ers

  1. Here’s where you got this wrong.
    **Reuben Foster definitely lived up to expectations on the field. The dude was a beast. Pro bowl caliber player for sure when he was healthy. He just ended up being a dirtbag so he got cut. That’s not under-performing. That’s a bad apple getting caught. Kudos for Lynch for getting that guy off the roster.
    Lynch got Jimmy G for a steal from the most shrewd business man in the biz so how can you say he’s made rookie mistakes? That just isn’t true.
    Solomon Thomas was a bust. I’ll give you that.
    Please try to be accurate though. It’s annoying when articles are not.

  2. 49ers in trouble if this year don’t work out for them lynch has shown he is a terrible gm who can’t draft. And exactly what has shannhan done besides having the same name as his father. Looks like the niners are on the bottom again you only get too win for so long. They will be on the floor for a while

  3. Their is no kudos too lynch for finally getting foster off the roster are you serious. How many things happened until he was finally booted that’s a terrible job by lynch and the niners. And also if your first round pick is not on ur roster 2 years removed from being drafted by ur team we’ll guess what he is a bust and a terrible pick. They knew what they were getting and so did every fan with a brain. I’ll give credit for the trade on grappollo when we see if he can ever live up too that redicukous contract lynch gave him after only playing 8 games.

  4. Blowing two first round picks in the same draft can do that to a coach GM relationship. Especially considering they were on the defensive side of the ball. Which would appear to be Lynch’s forte as a former defensive back. While Shanahan is the offensive guru.

  5. I honestly can’t think of a more undeserving GM in NFL history. The gut literally had ZERO experience. I mean at least Mayock scouted dudes for NFL Network. John Lynch literally just texted Jeb Dork and said “Hey, I played football. Bet I can run a team. Will ya let me?”

    Dork: “Well you couldn’t do any worse than me after I ran Harbaugh out of town. You’re hired.”

  6. superfanentertainment says:
    May 4, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I honestly can’t think of a more undeserving GM in NFL history. The gut literally had ZERO experience. I mean at least Mayock scouted dudes for NFL Network. John Lynch literally just texted Jeb Dork and said “Hey, I played football. Bet I can run a team. Will ya let me?”

    —————————

    Took the same path as former Lions GM Matt Millen. From the booth directly to running the show. At least Millen knew his limitations going in. When first approached by owner William Clay Ford, Sr. about the job, Millen told him “Mr. Ford, I really appreciate this, but I’m not qualified.”

  7. Lynch has done a very poor job overall between the all misses he has had & the fact he traded away a 2nd round pick while guaranteeing $74.1 Million Dollars to a QB who at the time had 2 injuries ( 1 serious ) in just 7 career starts. A year later surprise, surprise that QB is injured again, now suffering 3 different injuries two of them very serious injuries in just 10 career starts. That’s a level of incompetence Mr. Glass himself Sammy Sleeves Bradford never accomplished, Jimmy G has taken Sammy’s title as the NFL’s modern day version of Glassford 2.0!!! And when Garropolo was on the field last year he wasn’t any good. It is only a matter of time before he goes down again, 3 injuries in 10 starts is not a coincidence that’s a pattern. Everyone knows giving Jimmy G all that money was a mistake and SF will be looking for another QB in next years draft, even the 9ers front office knows it they just havent had to publically admit it yet though that time is coming as soon as Jimmy G inevitably lays a big FAT egg again and fails in 2019.

  8. Jimmy G said his mindset is that he is better than Brady.
    He ought to aim for better than Nick Mullens this year.

  9. The Clara Clowns are planning on going 5-11 then 3-13 in 2020 to secure Lawrence. Its a process. Then its title time for both their first time coach and GM.

  10. The 49ers had a rookie head coach, a rookie GM, and Jed York. If anyone believed that was guaranteed to be successful, you were drinking Kool-Aid. If anything could go wrong, it did go wrong. It can’t get worse, it has to get better. I think Kyle Shanahan is a top 5 coach. Bill Walsh was 8-24 (2-14 and 6-10) his first two years, then won the super bowl the 3rd year. Walsh was also a rookie head coach but they had a great personnel operation that drafted guys like Montana, Dwight Clark, Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright, Keena Turner, Carlton Williamson, etc. Only Lott was a first round pick (#8). They drafted good players but they were also outstanding character guys. They also had the lowest payroll in the league when they won their first super bowl. After they started winning super bowls, they never had early picks but continued to add pro bowlers and HOFers in the middle rounds every year. Even after Walsh left, Seifert came in and won 2 more super bowls, as the front office continued their draft day dominance. I’d give Lynch another 2 years to see if the ghosts inside that draft room start rubbing off on him. Lynch is highly intelligent, just like Matt Millen was, but they lacked experience in the draft room. You have to rely on your scouts. Ironically, Lynch recently hired Millen’s former scouting chief.

  11. Soon the 49ers will have the Bay area all to themselves. The pent up frustrations of left-behind Raider fans won’t mesh well the impatient 9er fans if there is not more immediate success. Kyle must hate being measured against McVay’s success, and who do you think he blames for the circumstances…

  12. ramsfandango says:
    May 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm
    Soon the 49ers will have the Bay area all to themselves. The pent up frustrations of left-behind Raider fans won’t mesh well the impatient 9er fans if there is not more immediate success. Kyle must hate being measured against McVay’s success, and who do you think he blames for the circumstances…
    *********************************************
    John McVay has 5 super bowl rings and accomplished that with two different head coaches and two different QB’s. That’s unprecedented. I can’t believe the Bay Area media has failed to mention his name for the HOF. McVay should have been the first non-player in the HOF, and I never hear his name mentioned. Wake up Bay Area media!

  13. A season that results in a postseason appearance would go a long way toward ensuring that Shanahan and Lynch draw closer.

    —-

    Well, that’s not going to happen, so then what? Another 5-11 campaign on deck. Rams are better. Seahawks are better. I’m not sure the Cardinals didn’t pull even with their draft, which was very good uncharacteristically for Keim, and hinges on whether Murray is Russell Wilson or Doug Flutie. I still don’t know what philosophy this team has going into three years in.

  14. It’s really pretty simple…

    If they win 8-9 games this year and contend for a playoff berth, Shanahan will have earned another year

    If their 2019 draft results in all 7 guys making the roster and 3-4 of them either starting or getting significant playing time, then Lynch will have earned another year

    Short of that and both should be very nervous. It’s time to put up or shut up

  15. Hiring Millens former scouting chief means we are really, really, really in trouble Niners fans.

  16. I must be in the minority, but I don’t actually think that John Lynch has done that bad a job. Thomas was overdrafted by a lot, but the Garropolo move I do not believe we’ve had enough time to evaluate. He’s been hurt, but his injuries last year were completely unrelated to his previous injury. I mean, you can’t say that a shoulder strain makes an ACL tear more likely. If you believe in a player, you get him. Drew Brees would have never been picked up by the Saints if they rejected him for his previous injury, and Garoppolo played pretty well before he was lost for the year, with a 6-1 record that was much better than previous years.

    Lynch has only had two drafts and two offseasons, but the players he’s brought in (with the exception of Thomas) have been productive on the field. The problem is their availability. Foster is either a dirtbag or at least guilty of bad judgment, depending on who you ask, but as a player he was fantastic and it’s hard to fault Lynch for thinking that he’d be a long-time cornerstone of the defense. Jerrick McKinnon tore his ACL, so it’s hard to fault Lynch for that either. Not to mention Kyle Shanahan probably is asking for certain players or types of players for Lynch to get anyway, so it’s doubtful that Lynch finds a player to randomly drop in Shanahan’s lap that the HC did not want.

    With the exception of the Thomas pick, which is in Lynch’s basket, I don’t think that most of the negative circumstances of the 49ers can be definitively blamed on their GM. The team is certainly looking much better than it did under Baalke.

  17. The Seattle Seahawks fortunes changed when they hired John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

    Schneider was an understudy of Ted Thompson in GB and learned the ropes from him so he was well qualified to break out and become the star GM that he is in Seattle.

    I am thinking the qualities needed to be a good football player and the qualities needed to be a good general manager are very different.

    Why would a guy be a good GM just because he was a good football player?

  18. ak185,

    Garrapolo has had two major injuries in ten starts, and you paid him $27 mil a year. But you think things are peachy, lol. Okay.

    The whole regime rides on that decision working out because they certainly haven’t drafted any difference makers to make that defense special. Well, they did, but he ended up being a woman beating psychopath. They overpaid an RB that got hurt before ever taking a snap and then overpaid one of Shanahan’s Atlanta pets who never looked great in a superior offense with Matt Ryan. Offensive line is still suspect after years of deterioration from the Harbaugh/Singletary years with no fixes in sight. Only thing they’ve found that was great was Kittle.

    I know fan means you have to put blinders on to a certain extent, but if I was you, I’d be a little concerned.

  19. “Garrapolo has had two major injuries in ten starts, and you paid him $27 mil a year. But you think things are peachy, lol. Okay.”

    ———————

    First off, I’m not a 49ers fan. Now that’s out of the way….

    I don’t think it’s all “peachy”. But I do not think that Lynch’s tenure has been the disaster people have been saying it is. Garoppolo got injured the second time AFTER being traded. One prior injury is hardly injury prone, my friend, and the two injuries were completely different and do not affect each other. I hope you don’t just remove every injured player ever from your board? You’d have to say no to Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo…those are just the QBs, by the way, and any of them could probably beat out any starting QB in the league right now.

    As to Foster…I’m not sure how Lynch is to blame for that. Any team in the league thinks that they can handle their questionable picks. The 9ers really are not too different in that regard. Lynch saw a playmaker, and took him, and he was right-Foster is a playmaker. The off-field issues he’s had can be guessed at during the draft, but those are not things that you can predict with certainty. Every pick comes with the chance of off-field failure, and at a certain point it’s up to the player to conduct himself. That’s not Lynch’s fault.

    I can agree that they overpaid at the HB position, but at the time of McKinnon signing, he filled a good need for them after several productive years in Minnesota, including a year where he essentially started for Adrian Peterson. McKinnon can catch and run between the tackles and outside, though he is not particularly elite at any particular area, he is versatile and fits Shanahan’s offense. Coleman I think is a similar player, as are Mostert and Breida to some degree, and I will agree that that none are particularly impressive on their own. But I cannot help but also think that those are Shanahan’s decisions more than Lynch’s. For the record, I’m actually not a Kyle Shanahan fan, and I think he’s pretty overrated as an offensive coach, but every GM should build their team to their coach’s philosophy.

    You are wrong about their offensive line. Yes, it is still suspect but it’s getting much better. Mike McGlinchey was a great pick, and Joe Staley is still a great tackle. The interior is bad, but they can run the ball pretty well, which is good because none of their HBs are particularly powerful. Lynch still has work to do, but ironically the biggest thing that helped SF’s o-line was Jimmy Garoppolo getting the ball out quickly, so you can’t say that Lynch didn’t consider that when acquiring him.

  20. ak185,

    Who would you like to blame? He had more red flags than a bullfight, and Lynch took him in the first round. I’m on record saying I thought he was the best player in that draft, but when you have issues like he had coming out, that’s why you draft guys like that in the middle rounds like the Chiefs did with Hill and not take him with a rebuilding team in your first round. That’s beyond idiotic and not any hindsight needed to criticize that.

    As far as Garoppalo, he’s been injured seriously two seperate times in minimal starts. That’s injury prone, not to mention he’s not exactly young. Maybe he’ll turn out like Matthew Stafford where that happened early and it was an aberration, or maybe he’ll turn out like so many others where it keeps happening. I know that I wouldn’t want my job to be riding on it after I signed him to franchise money when he didn’t even have Scottt Mitchell’s resume when they did that. Not to mention that he kind of sucked when he played those first three games, 59% completion percentage in a high percentage attack that Shanahan runs, and that same turnover problem he even showed in limited time in New England.

    Also, comparing him to Hall of Famers? Are you serious with that?

  21. “Also, comparing him to Hall of Famers? Are you serious with that?”

    —————

    That’s called an analogy. It’s not a direct comparison. Come on now, you know why I said that.

    Again, Garoppalo was injured the second AFTER being traded. He wasn’t “injury prone” until after he got to San Francisco. And, again, those are two separate injuries. Garoppalo hasn’t even really had enough time starting to be considered injury prone; the man has only been with the team for two seasons. I mean, would you consider Elway an idiot for signing Peyton Manning because he missed time with a quad injury his last season? I know your point is that he hasn’t played enough, but he’s only missed part of one season. It’s a bit early to throw out the injury prone label, especially when the two injuries are not related.

    Also, your personal evaluation of Foster makes little sense. Many teams-many teams-take uber talented players early despite their red flags. Your criticism of the pick IS hindsight-and Foster is still playing, and likely will be a key contributor in the future. We cannot say that Lynch didn’t know how to evaluate him. He was a key talent that played like a first round pick-and if you have a guy that highly rated fall into your lap, you’d be shortsighted yourself to not take a risk. Plenty of players have red flags-not all of them end up exacerbating their problems. Again, that’s not Lynch’s fault that he couldn’t predict the future. He did what he was expected to do, and added a high level talent to his team at a position of need. What happened afterward, though they may have been some vague hint as to its possibility, is not in Lynch’s hands. It was in Foster’s.

    Also, Garoppolo’s stats include a 65.4% career completion rating, since you brought it up, but given the cast of receivers in San Francisco I’m not too surprised that his last year hovered around 60%. It’s also easier to have a “high percentage attack” when your QB is Matt Ryan, and your receiving corps consists of Calvin Ridley, Mohammed Sanu, and some guy named Julio Jones…plus, more importantly, Tevin Coleman and Devontae Freeman. Shanahan’s scheme is high percentage because it includes those pass catching HBs, one of whom is now in SF. I would expect to see Garropolo’s completion percentage rise exponentially now that Coleman is there and McKinnon is healthy.

    We’ll see how it goes. If McKinnon comes back healthy and is a bust, Lynch was dumb for signing him. But signing Coleman was still smart since we don’t know how McKinnon will turn out after the injury, and Shanahan clearly wanted Coleman. That will help Shanhan’s offense a lot. Also, you seem to forget that Lynch also drafted George Kittle, who’s one of the best receiving tight ends in the league. The 9ers grabbed a crop of receivers-I think next year we’ll a marked improvement with everyone healthy and a better supporting cast. And again, I’m not a 9ers fan, but I believe you’re leaving some things out of consideration and leaving too much at the feet of Lynch.

  22. There you go bringing up QBs in a league that Garoppolo simply does not occupy. Peyton Manning? Brees? Are you serious? Peyton Manning had started for 10 years at that point and was already a HOF player. Even Brees at that point when the Saints signed him had two great years in SD, and if you remember, they made that deal with a contingency plan where they could cut him after two years and owe him nothing more. Of course, it worked out past their wildest dreams as he became a Hall of Famer there.

    So yeah, bad analogies. Try Scott Mitchell or Kevin Kolb, but those don’t sound as good to you because they weren’t that good just like Garoppolo hasn’t been.

    As far as Foster, if I’m telling you that I saw him as the best player in his draft class, and he was still there at the end of the first round, what does that tell you about what people uncovered in his background analysis, not just what you want to say is things “no one could have seen coming?” Talent evaluators were raving how he graded out far superior to any of those LBs coming out of Alabama, and yet he was still sitting there at the end of the first round?

    Not to mention, you have to add in what I said originally, the 49ers were a rebuilding team. They weren’t a team coming off a Super Bowl run who could maybe take that risk and absorb the mistake among all of their other great players. However, they did, and they predictably got burned.

    Hill is the perfect counter. He was a second round pick minimum with that speed. Probably a first rounder when you see guys like Austin and Ross go top 10 with that kind of speed. When teams played Oklahoma State, he was the one player you heard about beforehand. Chiefs wisely took him in the fifth round, and they weren’t coming off of years of futility. Money and big holes on rosters are at stake. This isn’t a Madden video game and why the 49ers will continue to be bad.

  23. Obviously not a niner fan here…but Garoppolo has a definite skill set that is obvious to see. Strong arm, quick release, able to read a defense, and good mobility. There’s a reason SF gave him that contract. I wouldn’t call him injury prone either…that’s just lazy trolling. He took a shot trying to pick up extra yardage that probably tear up most guys knees. That’s a mental lapse that he’ll probably never repeat. I expect a good season from the guy and I can see him getting the niners to the playoffs in the right scenario. Don’t listen to these fools like Hawkkiller who thought Rosen was elite putting up 172 yards per game.

  24. “There you go bringing up QBs in a league that Garoppolo simply does not occupy. Peyton Manning? Brees? Are you serious? Peyton Manning had started for 10 years at that point and was already a HOF player. Even Brees at that point when the Saints signed him had two great years in SD, and if you remember, they made that deal with a contingency plan where they could cut him after two years and owe him nothing more. Of course, it worked out past their wildest dreams as he became a Hall of Famer there.”

    ———————–

    That’s the point. The analogy is NOT to their skills. The analogy is that they, like Garoppolo, were considered broken and injured quarterbacks at some point in their careers, and got picked up by a new team and flourished. I don’t know why sports fan have such a hard time with this; it seems every time someone brings up a name of a great player in a conversation, someone insists that they’re being compared. They’re not. I am not comparing Garoppolo to Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. I am not. The whole reason I brought up those great names is to show that a player who is considered “injury prone” does not HAVE to turn out to be finished, and CAN be worth the investment and risk it takes to acquire him.

    Those names are easily recognizable because of their great success-I am NOT saying that Garoppolo has achieved that success yet or even that he will. I am saying that there is a possibility that he might, as others have shown is possible, and having a prior injury does not end his football career. So, yes, you could say that Garoppolo could end up like Kevin Kolb or Scott Mitchell (or Tim Couch or Trent Green or whomever). Shoot, he might turn out like Jake Plummer or Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Delhomme or plenty of other above average but not great quarterbacks. The point is that while there are many QBs who have fizzled out after injury, there are others who have rebounded just fine. And even though you’re down on him, Garoppolo is fairly young with decent upside, a very quick release, good mobility, and good arm strength who has shown the ability to lead and to win. That’s more than we can say for many other starters or potential starters. So yes, I do think you think that you’re being hasty in judging Lynch’s move for him to be an outright failure already.

    Again, Foster is a guy any team would have taken a chance on. While I won’t declare his selection a success, I’m also not going to fault Lynch for taking a chance on a talent of his caliber with the hope that he could mature. Any GM would have done that. It’s not like Foster was taken with a top ten pick. He was a top five level talent that was taken in the bottom half of the first round. And Tyreek Hill is not a solid comparison for two reasons: Hill was never regarded as being the best at his position coming out of college, and unlike Foster, Hill had actual convictions for actual criminal offenses. It wasn’t just whispers of possible misbehavior or mental instability, that was actual legal trouble. I know the comparison that you’re making is when it is appropriate to take a questionable character, but by your own admittance Foster was a top level talent. That changes things when comes to the chances a team is willing to take, and Lynch did no different than many others would have likely done had Foster been there one or two slots lower. I mean, Washington signed him AFTER the second incident with his girlfriend (an incident in which he exercised poor judgment at least and terrible character at worst, in addition to breaking team rules and violating the trust placed in him by the organization). Kareem Hunt got signed by the Browns. Top level talent WILL play.

    Balancing the locker room is important, you are correct, but nearly every player comes with a level of concern (some of them very real), and not all of them act the way Foster did. Can’t blame Lynch for trying.

  25. The situations aren’t even the same. Again, Brees and Peyton Manning were far superior players and were coming off injuries. The 49ers basically signed Garoppolo based on a small sample size just like the Lions with Scottt Mitchell, just like Arizona with Kevin Kolb. That’s where you need to start so that your analogies aren’t flawed.

    As far as the injuries, he’s been hurt seriusly twice in 12 starts. In any world, that’s injury prone. He couldn’t even make it through the four starts he was replacing Brady. That’s the definition of injury prone.

    Like I said with the Matthew Stafford reference, it might just be two coincidences, or it might end up where he just can’t hold up. I know that I wouldn’t have atttached my franchise future to that decision.

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