For weeks, the 49ers conducted their search for a new general manager, speaking to some of the most respected, sought-after candidates in the league.
That search was reportedly down to two strong candidates last week, George Paton of the Vikings and Terry McDonough of the Cardinals.
Then, on Sunday, the 49ers agreed to a six-year deal with John Lynch, a former standout NFL safety and longtime analyst with Fox Sports.
However, Lynch has no experience in a NFL front office.
It could turn out to be a brilliant move. Lynch has been around pro football for more than two decades and had links during his career to such brilliant NFL minds as Bill Walsh and Mike Shanahan.
Plus, he’s apparently totally on board with the 49ers impending hire of Kyle Shanahan as the 49ers’ new head coach. During the telecast of the recent Seahawks-Falcons playoff game, Lynch said of Shanahan — the Falcons’ offensive coordinator — “I’d be hiring that guy in a second.”
But as Tom Pelissero of USA Today noted Monday, hiring the inexperienced Lynch is a huge gamble for a team in desperate need of good leadership and stability.
Pelissero painted the 49ers’ GM and head coach searches by CEO Jed York and Co. as a bit bizarre.
“Nobody had seen a search process quite like this, in which a series of coach and GM candidates made a point of withdrawing publicly, and leaks of ‘favorites’ for both jobs seemed to shift as the field narrowed,” he wrote. “York’s mother, Denise Bartolo York, was calling coaching candidates (which is her right as an owner), adding to suspicions about who really had final say.”
Now, by bringing in Lynch, the 49ers are taking a huge risk. If he fails, the ramifications would be huge for the franchise.
“For all the recent upheavel, the 49ers job had enough going for it for York and company to get an audience with many other candidates who had been on the short lists around the league," Pelissero wrote. "Fail with this gambit, and it could be tough next time just to get somebody on the plane."
ESPN’s Jim Trotter wrote the 49ers’ decision “left some people shaking their heads while others scratch theirs.” Added Trotter, who notes Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have a good relationship: “Did the 49ers essentially say the ability of the two men to get along was more important than the candidate’s qualifications?”