Perhaps the 49ers are not Baalke vs Lynch, but Old Jed vs New Jed

Perhaps the 49ers are not Baalke vs Lynch, but Old Jed vs New Jed

John Lynch has already established his hyperactivity bonafides, which is what fans want from their general managers. They want action, and Lynch has force-fed them all the action that can be rammed down a human gullet.
 
Now comes the other shoe – what it all means to the way the San Francisco 49ers view their place in the world.
 
As outlined by Comrade Maiocco in one of his more anal-retentive moments, Lynch has signed as many free agents in his first 31 hours on the job as Trent Baalke did in the opening week of his last five free agency periods.
 
In short, it took Lynch three percent of the time to achieve Baalke’s level of quantity – almost six percent if you allow for sleep, which given the current state of the 49ers’ need list is a luxury Lynch clearly cannot afford. 
 
The conundrum, of course, arises in assessing the motives for this difference. We can dismiss the efficacy of those moves based on the very simple fact that none of those players have even practiced, let alone played a game.
 
But is Lynch’s aggression a statement of style or opportunity? Does he attack roster issues like an overly sugared kindergarten class, or has Jed York made a complete break from the style he wanted from Baalke? Is Lynch just tackling a far more desperate organization than the one Baalke inherited, or has York changed his view on salary cap or draft choice hoarding?
 
The answer to all these questions is clearly yes, with a side of no. Kind of.
 
Lynch has been given a mandate to dynamite a collapsing structure and use the $99 million in dust-encrusted cap room to remake a desiccated football team. More to the point, he has been granted York’s expressed permission to operate with fury and purpose in ways that Baalke either could not or would not.
 
This isn’t unusual in sport – the next guy is typically radically different than the last guy was, because if the owner liked the way the last guy operated, there wouldn’t be a next guy.
 
But Lynch, who took the job with no personnel experience bar the fact that he was once personnel, is unhindered by York’s much-presumed reluctance to tap into the cap vault. He still has approximately $70-plus million in cap room (three of the 11 players, Brock Coyle, Don Jones and Aldrick Robinson, had not yet been entered into the cap list at this writing), which makes more signings more rather than less likely.
 
And he is doing so because (a) the roster desperately needs living things, and (b) because York is tired of being the star of his own citizens’ air force, and would like to be thought of as the owner who didn’t get in the way of progress rather than the owner who undid it.
 
It is probably too much to assume that Lynch will operate in this way again next year, though, because it is unlikely that he will have as much cap room available. Motive, after all, doesn’t work without opportunity.
 
But Baalke believed in draft choices on the theory that he was better at selecting new toys than ones that were slightly broken in. Draft choices are notoriously unreliable in a different way than free agents are, so Baalke’s theory worked only if he drafted well year in and year out.
 
He didn’t.
 
Lynch, on the other hand, is working with a shockingly threadbare pantry, and the most important thing (as in first of the most important things) he has to create is a roster structure, and structure can’t be created without players. He had only his smile and money to do so, so he used them – more the second than the first.
 
But it took York rethinking his own priorities for Lynch’s aggression to be permitted, and maybe that’s the real difference we are seeing here. Not Baalke v. Lynch, but Old Jed v. New Jed.
 
Now we will wait patiently while we see if Lynch is good at this thing, because if he isn’t, the next next guy will be a lot less active in the treacherous free agent market, and far more devoted to the treacherous draft market.
 
Because that’s just the way it works. Yesterday’s conservatism is today’s boldness, and today’s impetuousness is tomorrow’s prudence. It depends on who gets to pick the words.

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

49ers 'ecstatic' with first-day haul in the 2017 NFL Draft

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers began Thursday with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

When his first day as 49ers general manager reached its conclusion, John Lynch had selected two of the three top players on his draft board and picked up additional third-round picks for this year and next year.

After Myles Garrett, the 49ers’ top-rated prospect, was the Cleveland Browns’ selection at No. 1 overall, the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears. The 49ers still got their No. 2-rated prospect, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

The 49ers started making calls to teams with selections in the teens, according to coach Kyle Shanahan, to inquire about trading up for Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. The 49ers finally worked a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three spots to No. 31.

All they gave up was a fourth-round pick acquired from the Bears earlier in the day.

“In terms of how we rated them, we got two of our top three players,” Lynch said. “We’re thrilled. We’re ecstatic. I think these guys have traits that encompass what we want to be about as a football organization.”

Lynch said he began speaking with Bears general manager Ryan Pace more than a week ago. Because the 49ers had picks scheduled next to the Bears in every round, Pace suggested to Lynch that the two teams should be willing to work with each other throughout the draft.

The 49ers had other offers for the No. 2 pick, Lynch said. A source told NBC Sports Bay Area just prior to the start of the draft that the 49ers had fielded three solid offers.

The team’s chief strategy officer Paraag Marathe worked out the details to finalize the trade with the Bears.

The 49ers did not know which player the Bears were targeting at No. 2, but Shanahan voiced his opinion while the trade was going down.

“This guy is a pretty bright,” Lynch said of Shanahan. “He said, ‘That’s not for a defensive lineman. That’s for a quarterback.’ And he was right.”

The Bears made the trade to select North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the No. 2 overall pick. In order for the Bears to trade up one spot, they delivered the 49ers a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick next year.

Jacksonville executive Tom Coughlin, whose team held the No. 4 pick, watched and admired the 49ers' move from afar. 

"To get what you had in mind right off the bat and pick up those extra picks? Pretty nice deal," Coughlin told Jacksonville reporters. "I’ve never seen one of those. . . Oh, my gosh. Nothing like that has ever come my way.”

When asked if the 49ers would have selected Foster if the Bears selected Thomas, Lynch said, “Perhaps. It was very likely.”

Instead, the 49ers waited and waited and waited before finding a trade partner in an unlikely place. The 49ers made a deal with Seattle, giving up the 111th pick obtained from Chicago, to select Foster. The Saints had already told Foster he would be the pick one spot later.

“He’s my kind of player,” Lynch said of Foster. “He plays sideline to sideline, and he’ll hit anything that moves. I think that’s contagious for teammates.”

Foster is recovering from shoulder surgery and his stock was negatively affected by character concerns. He was sent home from the NFL scouting combine after an argument with a hospital worker during his medical check. He also had a positive drug test due to a diluted urine sample.

Lynch spent a lot of time with Foster during his visit to Santa Clara, as well as a meeting him at the combine. Both Lynch and Shanahan spoke regularly with Foster on the phone and on FaceTime in the past few weeks.

The 49ers also dispatched vice president of football affairs Keena Turner and team chaplain Earl Smith to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to meet with Foster for two days. The team will have a plan in place to help guide Foster as he transitions to professional football, Lynch said.

“I would tell you that his character is what drew us to him,” Lynch said. “When you start talking football with this young man, he lights up a room. He’s a good kid. I believe in the kid. I think he’ll be a great player for this organization for a long time.”

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

What we really learned from day one of the 2017 NFL Draft

So after one day of the NFL Draft, we know the following:
 
1.        Roger Goodell could be booed on the surface of the sun, and if you don’t think so, let’s all agree to give that thesis a try.
 
2.        The Oakland Raiders have invested a lot in Gareon Conley’s word.
 
3.        John Lynch is either a swindler, or he was presented with a deal that only an idiot could refuse.
 
Let’s do Goodell first. He was booed lustily and often by the huge Philadelphia crowd, and though he would be booed anywhere (and he half-heartedly asked for more with a smile that looked more like a dog sticking his head out of a speeding car window), Philadelphia booing causes osteoporosis.
 
Next, we go to the Raiders, who used the 24th pick in the draft to take Conley, the secondary man from Ohio State who is being investigated for rape. Conley has maintained his innocence, putting out a statement denying all the accusations, and TMZ claims to have a video that calls into question the woman’s story. In other words, nobody can be sure of anything quite yet.
 
Except the Raiders seemed sure enough to take him, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said the team investigated him and the incident thoroughly. In short, given Mark Davis’ stated opposition to employing players involved in violence against women, McKenzie better be right, and close enough to right to assuage any misgivings Davis or the customer base might have.
 
As far as Conley the player, check back with us in at least two years.
 
Finally, there is Lynch, who squeezed (or was amazingly offered) three picks from Chicago Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace in exchange for one place in the draft. Pace, who was immediately described by Wikipedia as “the soon-to-be former general manager,” took North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, whom the 49ers had little interest in.
 
In other words, Lynch either pulled a fast one, or had a fast one handed to him. Either way, the 49ers got Solomon Thomas, the defensive lineman from Stanford they had long coveted, plus a third-round pick tomorrow, one next year and one in the fourth round that they helped spin into Reuben Foster, the Alabama linebacker who fell from much loftier draft positions apparently because of shoulder concerns.
 
In short, McKenzie got a much-needed secondary man who might end up being more trouble legally than he is worth athletically (though the level of doubt here is sufficient to jump to no conclusions quite yet), and Lynch won a reputation as the young Billy The Kid, smiling precociously while he robs you at gunpoint.
 
Time will tell whether he also gets to be called a great talent evaluator, but for the moment, don’t ask him to hold your wallet. That, kids, is the highest compliment a general manager can receive on the first night of his first NFL Draft.