General Manager John Lynch Press Conference
Can you just give us an update on QB Brock Purdy and when he can visit Dr. Meister?
“Yeah, Brock is down in Arizona. His folks are from there in Gilbert, Arizona. Dr. Meister is the orthopedist for the Texas Rangers. He’ll be traveling to spring training later this week and so they’re going to meet there and hopefully everything’s good and he’s made the progress necessary. Just commenting on that, I really want to thank Dr. Meister. He called me when he made that decision. That’s a tough decision to make, but I really appreciate the courage and the conviction to make that decision. It’s all about the best outcome. Is it ideal? No, for a variety of reasons, time being number one you want every waking minute that you have, but ultimately, he’s 22 years old. We want the best outcome. And that’s where Dr. Meister made a really tough decision and we’re very appreciative. And he’s done thousands of these surgeries and when you have all the swelling out, when you have all the stiffness out, is when he’s had the best success with the outcomes. And so, we’re very thankful and we’re hopeful that when they meet down in Arizona this week they can move forward and then it would be early next week as to when they would go in there and have the surgery.”
Is it possible that some healing has already begun or is that something that they just can’t tell right now?
“Yeah, absolutely. A lot of people talk about the ambiguity because you hear, well, you never know until you get in there. I get told that every time one of our players has a surgery and I think that’s surgeons just covering their bases. They never know. MRIs tell a whole lot of the picture, but you really, truly don’t know until you get in there and see exactly what’s going on, so we’re doing lots of praying and pulling for Brock and he’s a tireless worker, and so he’s doing everything that he can and hopefully we get some clarity moving forward here.”
That six-month timeframe, is that when he can start throwing again or is he going to be ready to go in six months?
“There’s a variety of different timeframes and Dr. Meister had a great line that I can’t share with you, but it was very clever just about how he doesn’t have a crystal ball and every player’s different. Every person’s different, so timelines are just that, they’re guidelines, but we’ll see. The reality is the majority of these are done on baseball players. This is not a baseball injury. Even the way in which it happened, Brock’s going to throw on and a 250-pound man with an opposing force, it’s a different injury and so, the outcomes are different and we’ll see where it goes.”
As an organization proven to be more proactive, in terms of the quarterback position, you need a certain amount of quarterbacks to run reps, does this put you firmly in a position where you have to look at the veteran quarterback, somebody that rely on just case things don’t go well or do you look in the draft to try and find another Brock Purdy type?
“Yeah, well, ironically, we made that decision last year and I felt really good going into training camp that we were kind of insulated in the event that anything happened. And unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough. It got us right at the end and so I think we’re all product of our experiences. We’ve learned, I was in some meetings today where the league discussing potential solutions for third quarterbacks such that we never have that kind of– but the reality is it’s very few and far between where those instances happen. So, we’ll see and yeah we may have to look into the quarterback market in addition to Brock and [QB] Trey [Lance] to insulate ourselves from whatever may happen.”
What are those solutions?
“We’ll see, but we’ll do our due diligence like we always do.”
In your dealings with Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon, what was it that made you feel like he was ready to be a GM?
“Ran’s had a tremendous amount of experience in a variety of roles and I felt very blessed when we were able to land Ran years ago and he did a tremendous job in our pro department. And then we wanted him involved in more than just the pro department, because he was worthy of that. And we felt like that would make us better. And so, Ran got out there involved in our college process. I think Ran’s greatest quality, he’s a tremendous people person. He really gets to know people in a really authentic way. I can’t tell you how many times, ‘Hey, Ran, I need you to go find this out.’ And he’d always deliver, because people connect with Ran. When the Titans called, you always kind of have mixed feelings because you don’t want to lose someone like that, but he’s also earned the opportunity and I’m so excited for Ran and the opportunity. I was with [Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel] Vrabes today talking about how much he’s enjoying working with Ran. He’s going to do great things for the Titans and I’m really proud and excited for him.”
He credited a lot of success from your organization to the collaboration, the relationships with you and head coach Kyle Shanahan. What is the key? Like how do you develop that and keep it at a high level?
“Well, I think first of all, it starts, you have to be a good pairing to start with. You have to have similar values. That doesn’t mean that you agree on each and every issue, but you better have a similar outlook on how you view the game, how you build team building, how you view culture. And that’s something Kyle and I recognized in an early time, early in our process and I think it’s something we rely on all the time. We still spend a lot of time together, so I think those things are critical and I counsel Ran, just spend as much time as you can with Vrabes and if you do that, I know both of those guys enough that I really believe that they’ll have success in building the same type of collaborative deal because the more minds you have working on a task and we have so much to do that the more people you can include and have on the same page, that’s a good thing for everyone.”
With former defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans going to the Texans, what can you say about the time he had and what he learned with the 49ers and also, what was it like working with him, him building a staff and that kind of relationship in San Francisco?
“I first met DeMeco when he was a player and I was a broadcaster. And you tend to ask for the best players in production meetings and captains and things like that. DeMeco was always one of those guys and the thing you first recognize when you’re around DeMeco Ryans is just presence. He’s got something about him when he walks in a room, he kind of commands that room and does it in a very quiet way, maybe when he was playing that was a little different, the emotion and all that would come, but he’s very calm calculated. He’s very smart. The players love him. They’ll go to all ends to try to make him happy because they know what he’s teaching them is going to lead to success, so DeMeco is going to do a fantastic job as well. Tough guy to replace. We’re very pleased with [defensive coordinator] Steve Wilks coming in. And Steve is very similar. Steve’s got presence and we recognized that right away. He’s got a willingness. We were just the number one defense in football, so we don’t want to make wholesale changes, so we needed somebody who had a similar vision on how you play the game. As such, Kyle and myself, we included our defensive coaches in the interview process and I think they felt the same way Kyle and I did that this was the right guy, big shoes to fill from DeMeco, but we’re really excited about where we’re going with Steve and I can’t say enough about both those guys.”
Quick follow-up former chief of staff Nick Kray, what was his role just to understand what might do in Houston?
“Kray was the chief of staff. He just got stuff done, that’s what Kray did. He came in as Kyle’s assistant and then moved on to a chief of staff role. Everyone knows him as the boombox guy. We’re taking applications for that and we’ve got some in-house candidates in mind, but seriously, Nick was a really valuable member of our team. We’re happy for him and his opportunity with the Texans.”
With Steve Wilks, DeMeco Ryans and New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, you have had three different hires of guys that come from playing under deep defensive fronts, so from your mind when you’re meeting with Kyle Shanahan, what is it about that kind of philosophy that really resonates with him and the philosophy that you guys want to keep in the building?
“Yeah, Kyle and I, I think a lot of our foundation, me obviously as a player drafted in ‘93, but [former NFL coaches] Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin and that group came in in ‘96. Kyle later, that was his first NFL job working for [former NFL head coach] Jon Gruden, but when he would get his offensive job done, he’d go over there and sit in there with the defense. And like I said earlier, we’re all product of our experiences and we saw some of the best coaches I’ve ever been around teaching it in a really good way, so what we do is not exactly the same, but that is the foundation of our belief system. It’s what we like to do and it starts up front, so I think it’s just something that we believe in. It’s been good to us and we want to continue that. We want to improve upon it, and we believe Steve can do that and he was the best guy for the job. It’s tough to rebound from losing a guy like DeMeco, just as it was with Saleh, but we’re hopeful that we can even improve it.”
You talked about potentially maybe being in the market for a veteran quarterback, the two that get linked to you guys all the time. One is QB Jimmy Garoppolo, the other is former NFL QB Tom Brady. Can you speak to both them and whether they can be linked to you guys again?
“Yeah, first of all with Jimmy, Jimmy has been tremendous for us. In our first year, at the end of the year we do a trade and Jimmy comes in, lights it up and a lot of people want to talk about what we didn’t accomplish with him. What I know is we won a lot of football games with Jimmy. I admire, we admire his toughness. We admire the teammate that he was, so I know everyone wants to talk about some discourse and all that, but I do believe that it’s probably run its course, but I think we leave with nothing but fond memories of Jimmy and Jimmy’s going to go play good football for someone. As for the other guy, I sent him a text when he retired. He was a teammate for about three weeks at one point, so I sent him a text, just congratulations on one of the greatest careers that I’ve ever seen in any sport. And I wished him the best, so we’ll leave it at that.”
As you go through the draft process, what’s the benefit to an organization for you when you’re going through and evaluating college players? If you as a team would send a scout or members of your front office to multiple games, if you send a scout to say four games rather than one, how much more can you find from that?
“It’s huge. I think about Purdy for example, we were in there numerous times. He played a lot of football there and yeah, believe me, you trust in those scouts and the information they bring back, we get to sit with them and we get to watch tape, but we get to sit in with 45 of the guys, we get a 15-20-minute interview. You glean what you can, but the most productive information you get is when those scouts have been on a player for two, three, four years and they’re talking to people from the head coach to the defense to the academic advisors to the people who can do nothing for them about the type of person they are, so that’s vital to what we do. The scouts are the heroes really in my mind when it comes to the draft process. We’ve got a great group that I can’t take a lot of credit for because they were here before I arrived and I feel blessed all the time when we get in that process. Kyle does too. We really trust these guys. We’ve had a lot of continuity and they are the guys that really drive the bus when it comes to draft.”
At this point in his career, do you think RB Christian McCaffrey has gotten used to having his workload managed towards the end of the season or has leaned toward wanting to completely carry the load?
“Christian came in and I tell you what, obviously he had the injury history and he ran into a rough stretch. All I know is when he came to us, he was healthy and did we manage some things during the week? I think of course you do. He had come to a schedule that the folks in Carolina had worked with him that worked best for him. And when you’ve got an elite athlete like that, you tend to listen to them. I always believe the athlete knows their body better than anyone else, so of course you listen, but I never felt like we had to manage him. I think we’re very fortunate that we have a guy like [RB] Elijah Mitchell right behind him. We’ve got [RB] Ty Davis-Price in there. [RB] J.P. Mason right behind him, so we’re well stocked at the running back position, but I can’t say enough about what Christian did for our team, not just our offense, but for our team. He’s one of the really great players in this league and we’re very fortunate to have him.”
DeMeco and Nick weren’t the only two hires in Houston, you also had former offensive passing game coordinator Bobby Slowik, what does he bring to the table from a coaching standpoint and what does makes him a playcaller that Houston can be excited for?
“Yeah, Kyle has a philosophy, I think molded by his dad and a lot of the great coaches in this league where it’s good to throw people into a variety of roles, so Bobby Slowik, when he first came he was working with Robert Saleh on the defensive side of the ball and I think picked up a lot of his core beliefs and understanding of how you attack defenses by studying defenses and helping Saleh, but Bobby was always one of was one of Kyle’s trusted voices. Bobby’s extremely poised, extremely smart, and I think ready for the next step. And so, we lost a Slowik and we brought in another [Klint] Kubiak and so that’s always a good thing. I think so highly of their family, but Bobby will do really well and he’s ready for that opportunity with the Texans.”
Where is Trey at right now, I know he started throwing this weekend. When do you hope that he’s fully ready?
“He’s doing really well. I feel like I tell you guys this all the time, but when I’m on my office, I got a nice view. I’m on the second floor, I got a nice view of the field. I get reports obviously, but my eyes tell me a lot and I’m watching Trey out there taking drops each day. I don’t see a limp. It’s not to say he’s a 100%, but he’s really recovering well and doing a really nice job and so, he did start the throwing here recently. Trey’s rehabbing extremely well. He did have that secondary procedure. It wasn’t really a setback. One of the plates was kind of given some interference with some of the tendons, stuff above my head, but they took care of it and he seems to be doing really well and we’re happy for him.”
When you look at his game, what would you say was the biggest bright spot early in the season? What where would you say he has the biggest room for improvement?
“Well, I think when we made the move to go up and get a guy like Trey, you don’t do it just for one thing, you do it for a variety of things. Trey brings a lot to the table. I think first of all, you talk with his makeup of his character, who he is as a person. We really believed in that and we’re probably even stronger on that. He does bring kind of that dual capacity where we felt like he could be a pocket passer, but also add another dimension as a runner. I think his biggest thing, we just have to find a way and I’ve had a lot of conversations with Trey, early in my career, I struggled to stay healthy and then I hit an eight-year stretch where I didn’t miss the snap, so sometimes you just have to go through that, the rough patches and he has to play. And that’s the biggest challenge, we have a team that’s ready to go now. He has to get out there and play. Brock got that opportunity this year. He grabbed it, he did great things, we’ll see at some point how we get Trey that opportunity because we very much believe in who he is as a person and who he is as a quarterback.”
And just to add onto that, when you’ve seen him develop, how have you seen him grow as a person from when you first met him to right now?
“Yeah. Well I think adversity can either break you or it can make you stronger. What I know about Trey Lance is he’s a guy who’s going to take that and find a way to learn from it. And that’s what he’s tried to do. I think the coolest thing for me was to watch him help Brock after he was hurt. Not an easy thing to do. I can’t say enough about the job [quarterbacks coach] Brian Griese did. He was a huge part of our success, but the first person that Brock would come off to and talk to was Trey and I watched that and I thought that was so cool. And it speaks to who he is and his character and it’s why we believed in him so much when we drafted him.”
What’d you think of Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel’s first season as a head coach?
“Yeah, Mike did a tremendous job. I’ve always known that about Mike, so vital to our success. He’s really sharp dude, not just because he went to Yale, just because he’s a really sharp dude who’s got all kinds of ideas and can kind of take the crazy outlandish and then make it fit into our core and our foundation, he’s got a real skill and he can adjust to his personnel as he did down there in Miami. Mike will do great things. He’s a really good friend who I really appreciate for what he gave to us and it’s great to see him and get to spend some time with him here, I’m pulling for him and the Dolphins moving forward.”
When a player closes off a season and a playoff run like DB Deommodore Lenoir did for you guys, how does that change your outlook on a player and your outlook on a position and whether or not you need to address it?
“Yeah, one of my favorite things when I was a player and now as a general manager is to watch players have breakthroughs. I think this was a breakthrough year for Deommodore. We believed in him as a player coming in. It’s a hard position to play. It’s a hard position to get thrown into a fire. The coolest thing about him, he kind of broke through that and it wasn’t easy. There’s another corner on the other side in Mooney [CB Charvarius] Ward that people really respect, so they were going to go at the other guy. He withstood some adversity where people were coming after him and the only way to put out that fire is to start making plays. And by the end, I wasn’t so sure in some cases that they were throwing it at Mooney, so I think that speaks a lot about the fortitude both mentally and physically of Deommodore. The coolest thing is he’s got some flex where he can play outside and inside, so he gives us a lot of versatility there. We’re really proud of the young man. He’s going to be a big part of us moving forward.”