When Jed York began the search for a new general manager one month ago, the candidate that the San Francisco 49ers CEO ultimately selected didn’t even realize he was interested in the job.
That month-long process, which included York and Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Paraag Marathe interviewing 10 applicants, concluded on Monday when the team announced the hiring of John Lynch, the nine-time Pro Bowler who worked most recently as a NFL analyst on Fox.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 31, 2017
“I can tell you that two weeks ago I never thought I’d be doing this and things change sometimes,” Lynch said in a conference call on Monday afternoon.
The opportunity came about because Lynch talked his way into the conversation. After broadcasting the Atlanta Falcons’ 36-20 thrashing of the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 14, Lynch called Falcons’ offensive coordinator and presumptive 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Lynch, who’d played for Mike Shanahan — the younger Shanahan’s father — with the Denver Broncos, kept the conversation going over the days that followed and eventually took the unusual step of suggesting that he should become the GM alongside the star OC.
Shanahan brought the idea to York and Marathe and the situation escalated from there. Lynch interviewed in Santa Clara last Thursday, had an overnight stay at York’s house that night and then took part in a weekend meeting with Shanahan, York and Marthe in Atlanta.
Most surprisingly, for an organization that has become infamous for its leaks, no one outside of the 49ers’ braintrust ever knew of Lynch’s candidacy.
“[I’m] fortunate in this world that things stayed quiet because what that did [is] it allowed me to truly assess the situation,” Lynch said.
The new GM, who confirmed that he’ll report directly to York — rather than Marathe — now begins a job for which he has zero traditional training.
Lynch insisted that he’s ready for the challenge, pointing out that when he played football for Bill Walsh at Stanford, he only returned for his senior season because the 49ers icon told him he thought Lynch could become a future Pro Bowler.
“That wasn’t conventional. It wasn’t conventional when early in my career I struggled to get on the field, and here I am this weekend, as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and knocking on that door,” Lynch said. “So, there’s a lot of things in my life that haven’t been conventional.”