Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

SANTA CLARA – Leading up to Stanford’s bowl game, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was mostly an under-the-radar draft prospect.

John Lynch had known all about him for a few years. He even called some NFL teams to give them a heads-up to watch No. 90 -- long before he was hired to run the 49ers' personnel department.

After trading back one spot with the Chicago Bears, Lynch made Thomas his first selection as 49ers general manager. The 49ers drafted Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick.

“I want to make it the best draft pick he has,” Thomas said on Thursday.

Thomas first met Lynch during his freshman year at Stanford. Lynch returned to Stanford to finish his degree. They took a class together: Management Science and Engineering.

According to MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, they even collaborated on a project of whether the NFL’s Washington team should change its mascot name.

“I remember I was star-stuck the first day of class,” Thomas said.

Thomas said they did not talk much in the following years, but Thomas reached out to Lynch for advice before Stanford’s game against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.

Said Thomas, “In the pre-draft process before the North Carolina game, he told me: ‘Don’t worry about the external stuff going on. Worry about yourself and your team. The best thing you can do is have the best bowl game possible and show you’re unstoppable and unblockable.”

That is exactly what Thomas did in Stanford’s 25-23 victory over Mitchell Trubisky’s team. Thomas recorded seven tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack.

A month later, Lynch was hired as 49ers general manager and Thomas first began to think about the possibility of being drafted by his former classmate.

“I thought it was definitely a possibility,” Thomas said. “People really hadn’t watched my film yet, so I didn’t know if I’d go that high.”

Thomas was routinely matched with the 49ers in mock drafts in the weeks leading up to Thursday’s first round. The 49ers swapped their second pick with the Chicago Bears, who moved up to select Trubisky.

All along, Thomas said he wanted the 49ers to draft him.

“In my head I thought, ‘I love that, but I can’t ride the rollercoaster and believe that stuff or I’m going to get my heart broken.’ I kept my mind open and came in blind and tried to be happy for any team to draft me,” Thomas said. “But the best team for me drafted me and the best team I wanted to draft me drafted me.

“I love John Lynch. I love the way he played the mentality that he’s going to bring to the team. Coach (Kyle) Shanahan seems like an amazing man and an amazing coach.”

Bills sign two former 49ers

Bills sign two former 49ers

The Buffalo Bills have signed two 49ers free agents within the past two days.

After signing wide receiver Rod Streater on Wednesday, the Bills announced the signing of linebacker Gerald Hodges on Thursday.

The 49ers acquired Hodges in a 2015 trade with the Minnesota Vikings for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round draft pick. Hodges started 12 games last season and ranked second on the team with 92 tackles.

Hodges left the 49ers shorthanded for a late-season game against the Atlanta Falcons when he violated team rules. Then-coach Chip Kelly did not disclose the nature of Hodges infraction. Hodges offered no explanation or apology.

The 49ers entered the game against the high-powered Falcons with just two healthy inside linebackers due to Hodges’ deactivation. Starter Nick Bellore sustained an elbow injury on the third play of the game, and the 49ers were forced to use safeties Antoine Bethea and Vinnie Sunseri, and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks at various points of the game.

The 49ers showed no interest in re-signing Hodges as a free agent.

Streater, a five-year NFL veteran, saw action in all 16 games last season after being acquired in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs in September. He caught 18 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns.

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

Harbaugh takes blame for 'premature celebration' during 2011 incident

It was Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach of the 49ers.

The 4-1 49ers were in Detroit and scored 10 points in the final 5:29 to beat the Lions 25-19.

An excited Harbaugh got a little too agressive during his postgame handshake with Lions coach Jim Schwartz. The two had words for each other and had to be separated.

Six years later, Harbaugh took the blame for what happened and said that he and Schwartz have patched things up.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake. I've since changed that. Not doing that anymore. Can't blame him. I went in too hard. And you respect him for taking exception. We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Hey, nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong," Harbaugh said Tuesday on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast.

Harbaugh sounds like he's learned his lesson from that incident with Schwartz.

"The postgame handshake isn't the place for anything. If you're bitter, than change the I to an E. Don't get bitter, get better. Nothing's really changing at the postgame handshake. Just professionally shake hands and go on your way," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh moved on from the 49ers to coach the Michigan Wolverines. Schwartz coached the Lions through the 2013 season and currently serves as the defensive coordinator for the Eagles.