The San Francisco 49ers pulled off a stunner Sunday night, announcing that former safety and analyst John Lynch would be their next general manager. Once the Super Bowl is over, Kyle Shanahan will be the 49ers’ next head coach, and both guys are getting six-year contracts.
After the news came out, Matt Miller of NFL Draft Scout posted several unfiltered text messages in response to the news, with one of them indicating that even the Browns wouldn’t make a move like this:
"The Browns are laughing at the 49ers right now"— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 30, 2017
As Browns fans, I think we have to show some appreciation for the 49ers’ out-of-the-box thinking. The Browns took a unique approach last offseason with the whole analytics thing and were either commended or blasted for it in the media. As an outsider looking in, though, this has the potential to be disastrous for the 49ers.
Lynch has no front office experience. Basically, he casually floated the idea last week to Shanahan about being his GM, and Shanahan said, “eh, why not?” So Lynch is already at a disadvantage in a year where the 49ers are in great draft position at No. 2 overall. He’ll be bringing in a more veteran personnel guy as his No. 2, who I’d imagine will be leaned on heavily as the decision-maker early in Lynch’s career.
As for Shanahan, I’ve said before that if he has the talent, he can turn an offense into something special. If he doesn’t have the talent, I don’t think he adjusts well and the results are ugly. The 49ers aren’t going to turn that roster into a contender overnight.
We’re always looking for angles on how this might influence the Cleveland Browns, though, particularly at the quarterback position. Since Lynch was an analyst for FOX games this year, people were able to go back and listen to what he had to say about Kirk Cousins as recently as December:
“You know, there’s a lot of talk in Washington, should this be our guy moving forward, is he really [worth] a $20 million contract?” Lynch began. “You’ve got to take your head off the figure, off the number. I think that scares people. That’s the going rate, folks. You may not like it, but it’s the going rate for good quarterbacks. This guy is a really good quarterback. He’s earned the right, in my mind, to be the [Washington] quarterback moving forward.”
Having had some familiarity with Kyle Shanahan too, could the 49ers make a play for Cousins, which would take one more team out of the running if Cleveland were interested in either drafting a quarterback (at No. 12 vs. No. 1) or going after the Patriots’ Jimmy Garoppolo?