John Lynch: 'In places that are perennial losers, it’s obvious'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday February 14, 2017

How did a TV analyst land the 49ers general manager job, and how was it kept a secret?

John Lynch joined The MMQB’s podcast recently to recount how he landed the role. The former NFL player and active FOX broadcaster had done some scouting work on the side for John Elway and the Broncos in the past. After the Falcons reached the Super Bowl, Lynch called Kyle Shanahan to congratulate him on the success, and the conversation moved to Shanahan’s plans for the 49ers and Lynch's scouting work.

“This talk with Kyle starts going on, and he says, ‘Would you be interested?’” Lynch recalled. “We start talking about the work I had done, how I would approach it. Kyle called me back about a half-hour later and say, ‘I can’t stop thinking about this. Would you talk with Jed?’ Next thing you know, Jed York and I are on the phone.”

When the 49ers announced Lynch’s hire, it surprised almost everyone. In a business where rumors, chatter and leaks happen all the time, Lynch said he would pull out if his name got out.

There were three reasons Lynch wanted it quiet. He didn’t want to create anxiety for his kids until there was an offer, he didn’t want to blindside FOX, and he wanted to test the 49ers.

I had read the stories that there were a lot of leaks out of that San Francisco building,” Lynch said. “I said, ‘Jed, it’s very important to me. Actually, it’s a non-starter. If this gets out, my name is out of the hat.’ It worked. It stayed quiet. One person had the story, and he’s a good man because he never leaked it. I told him the reasons why. He’s a father, and I said, ‘As a father, I’m asking you to hold onto it.’ He did.”

Both Lynch and Shanahan received eye-opening 6-year contracts, especially notable given Lynch’s lack of experience. But York said it was a sign of stability and confidence in them.

As Lynch gets to work on the job, the relationship with Shanahan is the most important thing to him. Lynch traveled around the league meeting with teams as a TV analyst, and he noticed what worked and what didn’t.

He admits he doesn’t know salary cap and agent negotiations yet, and the staff he hires will be key, but he knows football. He needs to know what Shanahan wants. It'll be an uphill battle to remake a roster lacking much talent.

“I need to sit down and say, ‘What is it you’re looking for?’ We’ve got to be together. The best organizations, the one thing I saw at places where there is a successful culture — John Schneider and Pete Carroll are as good as anybody, they’re lockstep. Dan Quinn and (Thomas) Dimitroff, they’re speaking the same language. Belichick has a different model, but everyone’s in the same direction.

In places that are perennial losers, it’s obvious as soon as you step in the door. Because the personnel guy is saying, ‘If we had someone coaching this guy,’ and coaches are saying, ‘If I had any players,’ and everyone’s blaming each other. Harmony, lack of ego, all those things are critical to making this thing happen.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to