49ers GM John Lynch shows he still has soft spot for Broncos

49ers GM John Lynch shows he still has soft spot for Broncos

DENVER — Sporting an orange tie and a blue shirt, John Lynch made it clear he hasn't severed his ties to the Denver community after joining the San Francisco 49ers' front office.

"We want to keep this going, that's the plan," Lynch said Friday following the 19th annual John Lynch Salute The Stars awards luncheon at Sports Authority Field.

Lynch said there was never any thought of shuttering his foundation's connection to the greater Denver area after he left the broadcast booth to join the 49ers in a surprise move over the winter.

Nor did he have a problem hosting his event, with Denver coach Vance Joseph as the featured speaker, at the Broncos' stadium, where he played from 2004-07 and where he joined the teams' Ring of Fame last October.

"Not from my side. I think it was raised at some point through someone at the Broncos but, as usual, John Elway stepped in and Joe Ellis and said, 'Listen, this is silly. This is about the kids in this community.' And anything that was awkward, hopefully we've gotten rid of that," Lynch said. "Because I think you see what it is: it's about these kids and much more than where I'm working.

"Like I said there (on stage), I'm wearing orange because ... the Broncos will always hold a special place in my heart and in my family's heart. So, I think in life you can do more than one thing at once and we plan to do that."

Lynch counts Elway, a fellow Stanford alum, as one of his best friends and following his hiring in San Francisco, he sought Elway's permission to hire Adam Peters, who was the Broncos' director of college scouting, as his vice president of player personnel.

In 2013, Lynch served a sort of apprenticeship under Elway, attending the NFL combine with him and sitting in with the Broncos' GM during the draft.

"Yeah, he's been awesome. He's a great friend and he exposed me to the business," Lynch said. "I think the biggest thing, when I had this opportunity presented to me really quickly and had a short, finite time to give them an answer, he kind of gave me the confidence: 'You know what, you can do this, just like anything else. You can be great at it.' And hearing that from him kind of emboldened me to feel that way.

"He helped me out in the beginning but now it's like anything else, we're competing. Fortunately, we're not in the same division and all, but he's been great. He's one of my best friends in life and we understand that we both have to serve our organizations well but we can also continue to be great friends and that's what we are."

The Broncos and 49ers face each other in the preseason on Aug. 19 and the teams will hold joint practices for the second straight summer leading up to that game.

"That's where relationships come in handy and we're looking forward to the work," Lynch said.

The John Lynch Foundation, which honors student-athletes and students with special needs, awarded more than $118,000 in scholarships at the luncheon, bringing to $1.1 million what Lynch and his wife, Linda, have awarded in Colorado and Tampa Bay, where he spent the first 11 seasons of his 15-year playing career.

DRAFT GRADE: Lynch got high grades for his first draft , which included a half dozen trades, none bigger than when he swapped the second- and third-overall picks with the Chicago Bears, then got the player he wanted in Solomon Thomas along with three extra picks.

"When the Bears kept expressing interest and the deal kept getting better, I thought it either was for Myles Garrett or Solomon Thomas," Lynch said. "And people in the building who have been around for a while said you don't make that big a move unless it's a quarterback. And so we started thinking particularly draft day when the deal really got better that this was for a quarterback. We thought (Mitch) Trubisky would be the guy.

"And so ultimately a lot of people have given Ryan Pace and the Bears a hard time about that. My perspective is they got what they wanted; we got what we wanted. And if Mitchell Trubisky becomes that franchise quarterback, I think it's worth a 3 and a 4 and another 3."

Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

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Taking a closer look at Ryan's criticism of Shanahan

There is no shortage of blame to go around for the Atlanta Falcons’ collapse in Super Bowl 51.

The Falcons built a 28-3 lead in the middle of the third quarter and let it slip away, ultimately falling to the New England Patriots, 34-28, in overtime.

Matt Ryan voiced one previously undisclosed factor in the collapse this week in an interview with Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, pointing the finger at the new coach of the 49ers.

Kyle Shanahan has been the focus of a lot of the blame, but critique from the league MVP was a new one.

The Falcons quarterback faulted his former offensive coordinator for taking too much time to relay the play calls. Ryan said he did not have enough time to change any of the plays – presumably checking out of called pass plays to run the ball.

Here’s what Ryan told Prisco:

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in. As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

The 49ers can point to mismanagement of the clock for their own Super Bowl heartbreak. The 49ers’ offense had the perfect play call at the perfect time against the Baltimore Ravens late in Super Bowl XLVII.

But with the play clock striking :00, coach Jim Harbaugh was forced to call a timeout from the sideline. A split-second later, the ball was snapped and it appeared the quarterback run would have easily ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the end zone.

Much like after the 49ers’ loss, the Falcons left plenty of room for second-guessing.

Two of Shanahan’s plays calls, which directly led to the collapse, will forever be scrutinized.

The first came with 8:31 remaining in regulation and the Falcons holding a 28-12 lead. On third and 1 from the Atlanta 36, Shanahan did not remain conservative with an expected run play. He swung for the fence.

Receiver Aldrick Robinson, whom the 49ers added this offseason as a free-agent pickup, was breaking free past the Patriots secondary for what could have been a touchdown. But just as Ryan was unloading, New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower hit him and forced the fumble. Running back Devonta Freeman whiffed on blitz pickup, which would have provided Ryan with enough time to target Robinson deep.

Ryan’s explanation does not appear applicable on this play, though. In watching the replay, the Falcons broke the huddle with more than 25 seconds remaining on the play clock and the snap occurred with :15 to spare.

The other questionable sequence came after the Falcons – leading by eight points -- got to the New England 22-yard line with less than five minutes to play. The Falcons lost 1 yard on a run play on first down.

On second down, Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss. Before that play, the Falcons broke the huddle with :19 on the play clock. The snap occurred with :04 remaining. The game clock was running, so the Falcons had reason to attempt to burn as much clock as possible.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons never seemed rushed to get off a play. The closest they came to delay-of-game penalties were when they snapped the ball with :04 on the one play and :03 another time. The majority of their snaps occurred with :10 or more seconds to spare.

If the Falcons were guilty of anything when it came to the play clock, it was that the offense did not waste more time. After New England pulled to within 28-9 late in the third quarter, the Falcons ran only six offensive plays while the game clock was running.

On those six plays, the Falcons snapped the ball with :13, :09, :14, :20, :13 and :04 remaining on the play clock. If they’d snapped the ball with one second remaining each time, they could have shortened the game by 1 minute, 7 seconds. The Patriots scored the game-tying touchdown with :57 remaining in regulation.

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Uh-oh: Is Kyle Shanahan going to be Harbaugh-tastic in his timing?

Until now, Kyle Shanahan’s hiring by the San Fracisco 49ers looked great because of his two-and-a-half predecessors – the last days of Jim Harbaugh, the misplaced concept of Jim Tomsula and the couldn’t-make-chicken-marsala-out-of-old-Kleenex problems surrounding Chip Kelly.

But now, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has told us all that Shanahan has a gift we in the Bay Area know all too well. Specifically, that Shanahan took too long to call plays to the Super Bowl the Falcons vomited up to the New England Patriots.

Now who does that remind you of, over and over again?

Yes, some things are evergreen, and too many options in this overly technological age seems to be one of them. Data in is helpful, but command going out is what bells the cow. Ryan said Shanahan was, well, almost Harbaugh-tastic in his timing.

“Kyle’s play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in,” Ryan told Bleacher Report. “As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you’re talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, ‘There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.’ You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

“With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You’re not being aggressive not running it there.”

And the reason this matters is because the Atlanta Shanahan had multiple good options on every play. In San Francsco, at least in the short term, he’ll be dealing with minimal options. That could speed up his choices, as in “What the hell, we don’t have Julio Jones.” But it could also mean more delays, as in, “Okay, him . . . no, maybe not . . . no, he just screwed up that play last series . . . oh, damn it, time out!”

In short, it’s growing pains season here, children. On the field, on the sidelines, and maybe even in Kyle Shanahan’s head.