(Photo by NESN)
As the San Francisco 49ers nearly complete their entire team hierarchy, they are making people feel befuddled due to their past decisions. It was no surprise that Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was going to be named San Francisco’s new head coach, but the choice for the general manager spot was not only out of the blue; it was random.
Potential Hall of Fame safety and current Fox Sports analyst John Lynch was named to the position this past week and will be living in the Bay Area for the first time since attending his alma mater, Stanford University. The 49ers currently operate and play in Santa Clara, California, roughly 20 to 30 minutes away from the campus, and even though it might help to have a person from a great school run the team, Lynch’s lack of executive experience and unusual path to the position should create worry.
He has never been in scouting, personnel evaluation, and as people are bewildered by the hire, they might as well conclude that he may only be getting the job because of another man that could be pulling strings in San Francisco.
People forget that Mike Shanahan, the new head coach’s father, was the runner-up to Chip Kelly when the 49ers changed head coaches one year ago. After witnessing a failed return on his investment of the 2-14 Kelly, it would not surprise me if owner Jed York looked at the mirror and thought to himself “God, I should’ve just gone with Shanahan instead.”
In comparison to all of the NFL owners, York is still a kid. Sure he might be smart with his Notre Dame education and NFC championship win with Jim Harbaugh, but he may have too thin of skin in comparison to his older peers and is letting the wrong people push his buttons.
It is blatantly evident that he let his team’s former general manager Trent Baalke sway him into thinking that he was worthy employing four head coaches. Frankly, no one should be surprised if Baalke’s influence suppressed York’s inability to make Harbaugh one of the five highest-paid coaches.
With thin skin now possibly causing him to feel sorry for Mike, York may have let the 49ers new head coach’s father convince him that Lynch was the right guy to replace Baalke. The older Shanahan coached Lynch as the head coach of the Denver Broncos from 2004 to 2007 and must have seen qualities in Lynch that were similar to the quarterback that rose him to coaching prominence and is currently running a successful team, John Elway.
Both were one-time Stanford quarterbacks who happened to play for the Cardinal’s baseball team, and as likely exceptional game film students, they reviewed and summarized players’ strengths to know how they helped teams win.
The only problem with likening Lynch to Elway is Elway’s employment of personnel-savvy executives since becoming the Broncos’ president in 2011. His front office includes former Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns general manager, Tom Heckert, and longtime Director of Player Personnel, Matt Russell.
In comparison, the 49ers just hired Broncos Scouting Director Adam Peters, a veteran executive who could help an unseasoned Lynch. Also, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers-connection to Lynch and Shanahan, Mark Dominik, is linked to becoming Lynch’s new top assistant executive. Except, other than Doug Martin, Lavonte David, and Gerald McCoy, there is no body of work in Tampa that proves Dominik has an impressive eye for talent. He has been an analyst for ESPN’s NFL Insiders and is the same man who hired Greg Schiano: a current NCAA reject who was below .500 in the Big East and lost all of his eleven games against West Virginia.
In addition, when you look at Kyle’s fourteen-year career, he has only had a few great years due to the presence of successful minds and players. He worked for play-designing virtuosos like his dad and his dad’s former quarterback and offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, and only found success with a quarterback who was already very good from 2008 to 2014, Matt Ryan, particularly when he capitulated to Ryan’s needs. The other seasons featured Donovan McNabb, Robert Griffin III, Josh Gordon, and Johnny Manziel walking all over him as a loser. When such moves have caused plenty of coaches to be fired, he may not be the savior his politically contaminated sycophants are painting him out to be.
There should be no good expectations for the 49ers for a while, and with the new head coach’s father having imperfectly run one organization in Denver after Elway’s retirement, it is hard to imagine a Super Bowl appearance with him essentially running San Francisco’s. He only had one season with playoff victories after Elway retired, something not acceptable in a title-driven town that is used to winning. If all goes based on the Shanahans’ usual history, another overhaul will come up and, again, we will be asking ourselves “Why did they let Jim Harbaugh go?”