Former Stanford football player John Lynch was named the new General Manager of the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and it was a shock to most people. It wasn’t shocking because John Lynch is a “bad guy” or because he wasn’t a good football player but he has zero experience in the executive field. Now don’t get me wrong, John Lynch KNOWS football. Lynch was a 9x Pro-Bowler, 3x First-team All-Pro, Super-Bowl Champion, is in TWO different franchises “Ring of Honors”, and could go into the NFL Hall of Fame later this week.
John Lynch was a great PLAYER but how will that play out as his first executive job in the NFL is running the once proud San Francisco 49ers franchise where the owner might turn on him for using the wrong urinal; he has never worked with fellow executives and coaches in this manner; and the current roster would be 3-point underdogs to Alabama. To say the least, Lynch has his work cut out for him but while most people are going to jump down his throat before he can draft someone with an ACL tear (Hey Trent), let’s look at why this crazy decision could end up being the right type of crazy.
John Lynch is a Winner
John Lynch attended Stanford University which puts him high on my list anyways and the fact he had one of the biggest hits in Stanford Football history en route to one of the biggest wins at that time for the football program and its first 10-win season in 50 years shows he can be a part of something that doesn’t seem imaginable and that’s winning. As previously mentioned, he was really, really good at football and for the most part, was on a contending team with his worst team record coming at 5-11 which would feel like winning a Super Bowl if he attained that in SF in 2017.
John Lynch has played with or was coached by Winners
At Stanford, Lynch was coached by Denny Green and Bill Walsh and played with guys like Ed McCaffrey, Cory Booker, and current Stanford head Coach David Shaw to name a few. Professionally, he has been coached by guys like Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Mike Shanahan, and even had a cup of coffee with Bill Belichick. Lynch played with guys like Trent Dilfer, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp amongst other credible players. Lynch has surrounded himself with guys who know how to win in the NFL.
The Fountain of Youth
John Lynch might be old in terms of playing football but in terms of life, he is very young. Lynch turned 45 last September and while that doesn’t make him the youngest GM, he certainly isn’t near the oldest which means he fits the mold if age is a concern. It can’t become official until after the Super Bowl but Lynch will team up with future head coach Kyle Shanahan, who is 37 years old and will also be doing something new for the first time.
Meanwhile, Lynch made his first official hire today and that was Adam Peters, who is somebody who has quickly risen in the executive rankings and will be the new VP of player personnel. He has worked with the New England Patriots and will be coming over from Denver where he helped with scouting since 2009 and worked closely with current GM and coincidentally a former Stanford alum and good friend….
John Elway is a Stanford legend and a Denver Bronco legend for what he was able to accomplish on the field. Off the field, Elway turned in his helmet, jersey, and cleats for suits, ties, and running the Denver Broncos. Since he took over in 2011, the Broncos have won the AFC West 5 of 6 years with two Super Bowl appearances and coincidentally, their Super Bowl victory was at Levi Stadium.
The one thing that Elway did though that Lynch should look at is not being afraid to be different or fail. While Elway did have some experience on the executive side in the arena league, Elway came into his GM role with Denver with zero experience. He drafted Von Miller with… the #2 pick like Lynch will have. He also came into the role with a highly criticized quarterback in Tim Tebow and while not nearly as controversial as Colin Kaepernick, the problems are similar. John Lynch may not be able to get as lucky as John Elway did or be as good as John Elway has been but you can’t see lightning strike twice if you don’t watch the storm.
Last but not least and this one is going to sting, while there have been Stanford players who have come through San Francisco, there have been 3 coaches in particular who turned this franchise into what it was and should be. Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Jim Harbaugh coached at Stanford and in San Francisco.
Walsh won 92 games in 10 years and while that only averages to 9 wins per year, 3 of those 10 years had a combined 11 wins. Walsh won 3 Super Bowls. Seifert took over a champion but you still have to draw up X’s and O’s and he also drew up 2 more Super Bowl titles. Jim Harbaugh went 44 and 19 in 4 years with 3 NFC conference championship appearances and 1 Super Bowl appearance. He got fired for going 8-8 which was something the 49ers only topped once in the previous 9 seasons pre-Harbaugh. John Lynch played for Bill Walsh and has seen that pedigree live and in person. The Stanford part of John Lynch will make him successful.