John Lynch Tested 49ers, and They Passed

Niners' New GM says he wanted to see if York and Marathe could keep a secret during negotiations

Over the past few years, the 49ers have been painted as inept both on and off the field.

The Niners have churned through three head coaches in three seasons while the on-field production has sunk to historic lows. Meanwhile, stories of front-office feuds have leaked to the media through anonymous sources.

Former head coach John Harbaugh, for instance, was disappointed during his last season with the team when front-office leaks indicated quarterback Colin Kaepernick might be benched for poor performance. That same year, sources said CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke wanted to push Harbaugh out, which proved to be true.

So, when John Lynch began speaking to CEO Jed York and Paraag Marathe, the executive vice president of football operations, about taking the job as general manager, he had misgivings about the organization.

In a radio interview on KNBR Wednesday, Lynch said he told York and Marathe that it was important they keep his name from leaking to the media as a GM candidate.

“I made a big deal that this stayed quiet,” Lynch said on KNBR. “First of all, you know what I was doing? Part of the rumors are things fly out of that building. So I wanted to see, could I trust this building, you know? And so that was part of my thinking.”

Lynch said he had a good job with Fox as a football analyst, so that allowed him to speak truthfully to York and Marathe about his concerns and the ideas he’d want to implement.

“I didn’t need the job,” Lynch said. “So that gave me a great position to be able to kind of just be very forward … I’m proud of the way that happened. I’m proud of the way they responded.”

The fact his hiring came as a surprise – that he was a third, unknown finalist while the media focused on the Vikings’ George Paton and Cardinals’ Terry McDonough – gave Lynch some confidence that he could work for the organization.

He now starts his tenure with the 49ers believing York’s only goal is to put the right people in place to win again. He trusts York.

“He’s tired of some strife and some contention in the building,” Lynch said. “He wants harmony.”

Now the next step is bringing on board a head coach after this Sunday’s Super Bowl, when Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be available. There’s no secrecy about that.

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