General Manager John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch & Head Coach Kyle Shanahan
Press Conference – April 29, 2022
San Francisco 49ers
General Manager John Lynch: “Needless to say, we’re incredibly excited with our day today. I think it was incredibly productive. Starting out with [DL] Drake Jackson, a guy we’ve had a lot of love throughout the process with. You turn on the film, and he just jumps off the film in terms of his athleticism and talent and length and all the things — his ability to turn the corner and redirect, all the things we look for and covet in a defensive end. Then we brought Drake in and got a real good feel for him as a person. Really worked hard on him and thrilled to be able to land him. Didn’t think he’d be at 61, and he came there, and we were happy to grab him and make him a part of the Niners. Tyrion is a guy we’re very fond of, has a style that can best be described as physical and tough, and he’s also got some speed to go with that package. When you can add toughness and speed, he’s in a bigger package. Danny Gray does it probably in a smaller package, but still has those two qualities of he can flat-out get it. This is a kid who won the 100 in Texas as a sophomore in high school, and his coach, Sonny Dykes, Kyle and I have a relationship with Sonny, and he was great during the process just kind of explaining who the kid is and talked about him as a player. Want to thank our scouts and coaches and everyone. It was a really productive day, and open it up for questions.”
Drake’s production doesn’t jump off — his stats don’t jump off the page. Did that concern you, and what do you think went into that over his career at USC?
JL: “You know, ultimately you want the finishers, but we also look at a lot of different metrics. Our R&D, our eyes, all those things, I’d say he’s incredibly disruptive. He played in a bunch of different schemes and they moved him around a lot, so we think his best football is in front of him. But things such as quick disruption, something we study a lot, he was tops in the country. We liked the film. We think, as I mentioned, his best stuff is in front of him.”
John, you mentioned the other day that you probably wouldn’t be doing too much moving around. Were there opportunities you considered or were you content to sit back and wait?
JL: “Kyle and I sat on our hands and it was just miserable. We’re not used to sitting back and waiting. It was tough but I’m glad we did because it allowed us to make these three picks today. It was a long wait to 61, but glad we did it. Glad we had that patience.”
Kyle, the two picks in the third round, were those designed to take some of the load off WR Deebo Samuel?
Head Coach Kyle Shanahan: “I think they both can, but we thought we needed another running back. I definitely thought we would have loved to add a speed receiver. There’s a lot of ways the draft could have gone, but right there those picks in the third round we definitely felt were the best for our team.”
Kyle, how would you characterize the situation [with Deebo]? Were you surprised by the trade request, and did you consider doing it?
KS: “Yeah, I was real surprised. I think John spoke a lot on that last week, and I feel pretty much the same. We were surprised but also once it does happen, you know this business, so it can’t surprise you too much. But yeah, we were disappointed a little bit, but it’s part of this business. You’ll consider anything. You have a responsibility to help your organization the most you can. But losing a player like Deebo, it’s hard to see how that helps your organization. You try to look at all the aspects of it and what people are willing to do, and nothing was even remotely close that we thought would be fair for us or fair for the Niners.”
Was there a conversation with Deebo yesterday in which you said that it doesn’t look like we’re not going to trade you, not entertain any offers?
KS: “No. Yeah, I haven’t talked to Deebo for a couple weeks.”
By not trading him yesterday and today it seems to indicate you’re confident you can work things out with him. Why are you confident you can work things out?
KS: “Just because I think we can.”
Just your personal relationship with him, conversations you’ve had?
KS: “No. It’s part of the business. There’s certain things that people got to go through. There’s certain things everyone is trying to get and trying to do, and you see what you can and you work from there. I mean, you can work out anything. Hopefully when this is all said and done we’ll get the best thing for the Niners, best thing for Deebo, and hopefully that’s the same thing because we’d love to keep going how we’ve been. But we know that’s in front of us right now.”
Has his role come up in discussions, Kyle? Not to get too detailed, but has he mentioned that his role could change, should change, he wants money for a certain kind of role versus another role?
KS: “I mean, I can sit here and talk about what we said for a long time, which I’m not going to do. There’s lots of things that play into that and those are things that we’ll discuss with Deebo, that we have, we’ll continue to. And I’d love to share it all with everybody so people can understand more but that’s really not right to Deebo, it’s really not right to Deebo, to the 49ers, and hopefully we can work this out and someday it’ll clear up for you guys.”
As far as Tyrion, I think there was a level of surprise just the fact that you guys took him that early and that maybe didn’t line up with where people valuated him. Why did you feel that that was appropriate value where you picked him?
JL: “Yeah, I think this always comes down to obviously you take into account where the league values someone, but you’re only guessing when you do that. We have a lot of different layers, and part of our process is to try to figure that out, but ultimately do you like the player, do you have a vision for that player, and does he fit something you think can not only improve your team, but is that the best fit for us. At the time we just thought he was a tremendous fit for exactly what we’re looking for. I think a great complement to Elijah, and I think we envision a great role for Trey Sermon going forward, for Jeff Wilson. There’s plenty of room for these guys. Most seasons we’ve used four, we’ve used five, so I think it’s something — we emphasize the run game here and we want versatile backs. I think we have that with our collection of guys, and we’re excited about that group.”
What do you see in the running backs room that you don’t have right now?
KS: “Well, one, I don’t think you can have enough running backs. I mean, we took two last year (2021 NFL Draft); we were happy with our starter going into last year. We had other guys who had played well too and we took two, and by the fourth game we’re still having to steal guys off other team’s practice squads just to field enough guys to play in a game. So sometimes you can have good luck. This guy is staying healthy, sometimes not. The more guys you can add the better, but kind of the physicality that he brings gives you a chance to have a very physical one-two punch. I thought Deebo helped us do that towards the end of last year bringing that in, but you don’t want that to be just your one-two punch. You got to bring in some other backs to do that. I do think we have some guys on roster that have a chance. We know Trey, we thought he had a chance last year; got banged up; was a little bit behind. But I’m not holding out — I mean, I don’t think he can’t do it this year. So to add some competition to him, having guys like Jeff Wilson, (JaMycal) Hasty, guys on our roster. And now adding Ty with what Elijah did last year. Elijah was missing a bunch last year too. We’re a running team, we like to run the ball, and any time you have a chance to get a good back, if that is what’s best for your team compared to all the other positions, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a back because just look at not only us, but everybody, you play with a lot of them.”
Has Alex Mack made his final decision on whether he’s playing this year?
JL: “I don’t think a final decision. We’ve been in contact with Alex and had another discussion with him the last couple days, and so I would still describe that as fluid. But I think we’ve collected all the information we needed to collect coming into this draft.”
So many receivers were flying off the board. Were you anxious about being able to land one that you really liked on day two?
KS: “Not really. We feel pretty good about our receivers. We just felt good about the skill set that Danny had. We felt good about our three receivers last year. We were able to add Ray-Ray (McCloud) who we think can help us a lot this year, not just as a returner but also part of the group. And we’ve got some guys you don’t know about that are good players that have bounced around this league that add some depth for training camp. This wasn’t at all a position we had to go do, but when you look at there in the third round, you look at the speed asset this kid has that brings something different to the rest of our guys — that’s one of the reasons it was important for us to have Travis Benjamin last year. He was our main speed guy that he didn’t get a lot of balls or anything, but he did things to help coverages out, and if we could find a guy like that at the right spot, we thought it was good to add him.”
It seems Drake Jackson’s weight has fluctuated. He played the last couple years in the 240s, but he told us that he’d rather be at 265. I think he’s around there right now. Where do you envision him playing for you? How do you feel he fits into the particular edge rushing role that you want?
JL: “You know, Kyle, and our philosophies like on a lot of things, we match up, and it’s something I went through in my career. I think ultimately what you want to do, you want to be as light as you can be without losing your power. So that’s what we talked to all our players. That’s what we encourage our health and performance staff to help these guys find. And Drake, that’s one thing that sometimes you have concern of, when a guy has been up and down with weight. But once you kind of get his story, he was only doing what the coaches at that time were asking of him. They moved him to linebacker last year. The coordinator was a linebacker coach and he wanted him as a backer. He wanted him in the 240s. There’s some other things. He got sick, lost another 20 pounds, so he wasn’t exceptionally light. His freshman year where he probably played his best ball he was approaching 270. But we talk a lot to people about where do you feel best, because I think ultimately the athlete knows their body better than anybody. We’ve got all kinds of resources that can help fine tune that. But you know, he’s an interesting dude in that he looks good at 240; he also looks good at 260. He’s broad enough, he’s long enough that he can carry a lot and carry it well.”
How much input does Kris Kocurek have in that process? How much does he get to work with him when he visits?
JL: “He sits two inches from him and screams in his face the whole time. That’s how those dinners go.”
KS: “Eventually we got to send someone to save the kid.”
Would Bobby Turner have any input on the running back or did you give him the year off?
KS: “We gave him the year off by his request. He doesn’t want us messing with him right now. He is enjoying his rehab and bugging his wife. But no, Bobby is doing good.”
JL: “Those No. 2 pencils have to rest.”
You and John have talked about team chemistry, about locker room, when you believe in each other, have each other’s backs, that matters on the field. When you have a prominent player saying he wants out, does part of you say, okay, go; we don’t need that?
KS: “I mean, yeah, you can. We have a great relationship with Deebo. I haven’t seen him a lot since the season ended. I think it’s a little bit easier when you’re dealing with people without screens and phones in front of you and what you guys read wherever it is and what most of the world is like that. I know my kids are. But I try not to get too caught up in it. You know somebody, they know you, and when there comes a time when it settles down, hopefully it’ll settle down more after this draft and things get somewhat easier. But this isn’t someone that we just met. We’ve been here with him for three years. I think we know him pretty well; he knows us pretty well; and things haven’t been the best over the last couple months through outside perception. But I see that happen a lot in this league, especially in contract situations. You try not to overreact one way or the other and try to be patient with it because emotions can get high with people, especially when you care about people and a lot is riding on it. But that’s what you’ve got to make sure you don’t react to. And you’ve got to make sure when it’s all said and done, first and foremost, you do what’s right for the organization, and then second of all you try to do — try to get a win-win for both sides.”
Do you have any offers that was even close to considering?
KS: “Not even close.”
Do you doubt that the relationship can be salvaged?
KS: “I mean, I would hope so, but I don’t know what other better ways I can say it than what I just did.”
When you see AJ Brown got last night go to Philly and he gets his contract, does that give you more hope, help you at all in terms of finding that parameter for what Deebo –
JL: “You know, I think all these situations are unique. You’re obviously aware of what’s going on around the league, but we were focused on our situation. We tried to do what was right there. We believe we did, and we believe that we can find a way through this and that we’ll all be good. We’re encouraged about that.”
How much of a factor on all your moves is you’re likely or are going to have a first year starting quarterback — you always want to have the best team, but you would like to have as many comfortable weapons around him. Was that a primary focus?
KS: “Yeah, you would like to do that. That’s why we were hoping we could gain some more picks back and stuff, too, so you can start to add that. But nothing is guaranteed, and you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. Today I would’ve loved if we found a way to get a ton more picks and add a bunch of younger guys in here. That’s awesome, but we didn’t. And how did we do with our three picks today? If you would have told me this before the day started these were the three guys we’d end up by staying put, I would have been very excited. I would have been surprised. That’s what the whole dilemma is. You sit there and have to wait for two days to get to 61 and you’re watching all these players you’ve studied for months just go left and right. It is really hard, especially when you feel you’ve got a good team. It’s not going to be easy for a lot of later round guys to make it to kind of trade your picks away just to go get one that you know could fill a hole that you need. But we didn’t, and that’s what was cool, that we got three guys today instead of one. That’s what I was happy that we were able to do, and that worked out for us. You can’t always say that, but that’s why the draft is a crapshoot. The hardest thing for us is when you ask a question where do you think they’re going? Everyone understands, everyone ranks guys and there’s a perception of when everyone is going to go, but the reality of when someone is going to go is when someone picks them and you don’t know that until it happens. You see it all over when people freak out and stuff, but a lot of these guys are really good players. I saw that with New England in the first round. Those guys don’t surprise me at all or us. Surprised you based off of perception because you knew everyone in the world was saying there was no way, but everyone who watched that tape, they’re like, but he looks like a first rounder; who’s going to pull the trigger? And you never know what that one person is, because you’re hoping the other 32 teams are saying, no, we’ve all read this. He’s not going until the third round. Well, that’s why someone takes him the second round, because he looks like a second rounder or he looks like a first rounder. We all try to figure that out, too, but it only takes one team, and that’s why you don’t want to mess around and be too cute with that.”
You talked about adding more picks. Obviously trading Jimmy would be the easiest way to do that. Do you feel like you’re any closer to resolving that situation?
JL: “No. I mean, we’ve said all along it’s going to take the right deal to get us to move him, and he’s part of our team right now so we’re excited about that. We look at the totality of that position and we feel really good about it right now. We’re extremely excited about Trey, excited about Jimmy, and Nate Sudfeld. There’s a lot to like about him, as well. We’re excited about that group.”
What was yesterday like for you? Was it less stressful, more stressful? Was it a lot of, as you said, just sitting on your hands?
JL: “Yeah, so yesterday we kind of knew what the deal was. Today was probably harder, just waiting for 61. And like I think we’ve talked a lot about it since we’ve been here, our defensive line is very much at the forefront of this team. We’ve got a philosophy. That’s the great equalizer in today’s defensive football. We had kind of zeroed in on just a couple of pass rushers that we felt were difference makers, otherwise we were going to turn to other needs, and Drake happened to be one of those. We really held out hope that he could last until 61. We didn’t think he would. We were tempted many times to move up, and we sat back instead. I’m glad we did because it allowed us to take these other two. We likely would have had to have given away one of those picks and instead we got all three, so that’s nice.”
You might have some uncertainty on your interior offensive line, but is today a reflection that you’re not really stressed out about that spot?
JL: “I don’t think stressed out. I think we understand where we’re at there, and we’ve got a plan to deal with that. There’s still a bunch of picks left. I think I’ll leave it as that.”
Ty mentioned that he met your father; was that a planned meeting?
KS: “Oh, yes. That was — no, it wasn’t planned. I didn’t know that he did, but my dad comes sometimes, hangs out here during draft time, and he was here the day that they came for the 30 visit, so I think he met everybody that day.”
JL: “It’s pretty incredible, because Mike typically doesn’t come out of his little office up there. He stays in there for 13 hours at a time and we have to go in there to talk to him. That’s pretty cool that Ty got a chance to meet him.”