General Manager John Lynch Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch
Press Conference – April 25, 2022
San Francisco 49ers
“Welcome back guys. It’s good to have you here in person. It’s great to be here today. Exciting time of the year. It’s always super fun. Our players arrived back within the last couple weeks, in phase one, they’re out there working out and it’s fun to feel their energy in the building and the excitement that comes with that. A number of new coaches and feeling that energy has been tremendous, in general, and then through this free agency and draft class as draft preparation as well. We’re here today to talk about the draft and it’s a great draft to have nine picks in, I really do believe that. We’re excited for it, I’m real proud of our group and the preparation that we’ve kind of taken on and that remains fluid, it’s ongoing. A lot of thank yous. I want to thank the college scouting staff led by [director of college scouting] Tariq Ahmad, they do a tremendous job. I think we’re blessed here and that has nothing to do with me. I inherited a lot of these guys. We inherited a lot of these guys, but I think we’ve added to it. We’ve figured out how we’re going to do it, but they’re tremendous. And Tariq is representative of that, the amount of visits that these guys made, it’s a really deep class with COVID. A lot of guys were afforded the opportunity to come back to school and a lot of kids took that opportunity and so it made the depth and the numbers really high. And our college staff kind of embraced that and had a great plan and executed it with really hard work. And so, I want to commend each and every one of those guys. Obviously, when I’m talking about them, I’m talking about [assistant general manager] Adam Peters, [vice president of player personnel] Ethan Waugh and [director of pro personnel] Ran Carthon, part of our personnel group and everybody up there. I also want to thank [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and his coaching staff. As you guys know, they play a big part in scouting, a lot more so than in other places. They’re very much intertwined. They arrive at their studies on the college players a lot later. I referenced earlier the nine new coaches, that was really fun to have a system in place that we think runs really well, but some new energy, and of course you’re going to miss the [former running backs coach Robert] Bobby Turner [Jr.]’s of the world and his way of seeing things, but to bring in an [running backs/assistant head coach] Anthony Lynn. A couple of our young quality control coaches have been on college staffs, so their familiarity with some of these kids in college really came in handy throughout this process and will continue to do it, so really good process. That process goes beyond scouting and coaching. Guys like [director of player engagement] Austin Moss and our player engagement program, they’re integral with meeting the kids and really doing deep dives on the character. [Chief administrative officer & general counsel] Hannah Gordon, when we need to do deep dives into people’s character, is always tremendous. Our medical staff, you’re talking upwards of, in-depth outlooks on over 450 players and their medical conditions, because that’s so important. And so, it really is an effort that takes everyone and I couldn’t be more proud of our group. I know you guys are here today to talk about the 2022 draft. I also know that you guys have jobs to do, and everyone’s very curious about [WR] Deebo [Samuel] and what’s going on there. I would ask for your guys’ understanding and a little perspective that I’m not going to talk about that much today, because I don’t think that’s productive. I don’t want to speak on behalf of Deebo and his team. And I think it’s non-productive for us to be talking about things. I’ve always thought having been on the other side, and I’ve shared this with you guys, there’s a sanctity to those conversations remaining private and that’s always how we’ve operated and we’ll continue to do so in this situation. As we move forward, I’m sure you have questions, just understand, please, that I’m just not going to go there, because I don’t think it’s, I always have to ask myself in this job, ‘what’s in the best interest of, of our organization?’ I don’t think it’s the best interest of our organization or anyone to be speaking on that. So that’s kind of where I’m at on that. But with respect to the draft, I mentioned the depth of it. I really do believe that it’s a quality draft. Probably not as top heavy as we’ve seen some other drafts. I do think I’m always an optimist, but a draft where you have nine picks and the first one isn’t until 61, I think it sets up well for that because there is tremendous depth in this draft and so, we can talk about that and a lot of things and I’ll open it up for questions there.”
Has Deebo, or his agent, requested a trade to you guys?
“I think you guys have seen the stories and all that. And like I said, I’m just not going to get into those particulars because I just don’t think it’s productive. So, I’m going to stick to that.”
You talk about the sanctity of keeping these things private. Clearly this is no longer private via him. Does that bother you?
“It doesn’t bother me. I think we live in a different world where there’s a number of ways to express yourself and it’s certainly their right to do that. I think we pride ourselves for our communication with our players, and this case is no different. I’m confident we can find the solutions to work through whatever’s going on.”
Why not just pay Deebo now? And this team’s track record is to pay and reward the home-grown stars later in the summers, whether it’s LB Fred Warner, whether it’s TE George Kittle. Why does the team like to put those moves off later in the summer when some teams will extend guys now?
“Yeah, again, I’m not going to get into the particulars. Yeah, I know it’s in general, but I’m not going there guys. And I’m very understanding and I try to at all times help you guys, but I just don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to get into the particulars.”
Would you say that you’re open to trading him? Are you guys picking up the phone?
“I can’t ever imagine wanting to move on from Deebo. You put yourself through the exercises of, even though we don’t have a first-round pick, you have to be thorough in this process and prepare for everything. And so, you go through and do that and he’s just too good of a player. You think of 2019, the 36th pick, to come up with someone like Deebo who, to me, has just been a game-changing player for our franchise. I’ve told Deebo this, I think he’s the perfect illustration. [Former NFL coach] Herm Edwards used to talk about when will meets skill, you’ve got the opportunity to be special. And I think Deebo probably embodies that as much as anyone, he’s got tremendous will, he’s a very talented player. I think by virtue of the way he plays, it’s inspiring and so, to me, that entails leadership. Do you make people around you better? He checks that box. He’s a great teammate. And I think of things like prior to games, I get out there and he’s always throwing the ball with the fans. I think he’s been a great member of our community, so we’ve got nothing but love for him and nothing but appreciation for what he’s bought, but you just don’t let guys like that walk. I can’t envision a scenario where we would.”
Does the uncertainty of the situation sort of put a cloud in the locker room before the season even starts given how important it is?
“I don’t think so. I see guys out my window working extremely hard and it’s really early and guys are focused on getting themselves better and I think that’s where their focus should be. And that’s where it is right now.”
The situation with Deebo, does it at all effect how you’re looking at the job and preparing for the draft? Has it changed anything?
“No, because we pride ourselves, and I think if you’re doing your job right, you’re going to be thorough. And that does mean preparing for every possible situation. And so, we do that and you do that each and every year and this year is no different. I think that the only difference this year is just the volume of players, there’s a lot. And so, I think talking to my counterparts throughout the league, everyone had their plan of, ‘okay, here’s our draft meeting schedules.’ And everyone’s kind of pushed on because of the volume of players and ours was no different. There were a couple extra days in there, but we allowed for that thinking that might be the case. And so that’s the only difference this year, but we’re prepared for each and every scenario.”
Not to get into specifics, but do you believe you’ve made Deebo a fair offer given where the market is right now?
“I’m not going to get into any specifics with respect to that. And I explained my reasons why.”
Have you talked with Deebo at all?
“We have, yeah.”
You did trade Indianapolis Colts DL DeForest Buckner two years ago. This may not be exactly the same situation. And that was March, not the week before the draft. Are there major similarities in these two situations?
“I think two completely different situations. We had different motivations and reasons. Whether that was a good decision or not, I think people will always analyze that. And I think that’s still writing its own script. I didn’t take that lightly, still probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been involved with since I’ve been here, because of everything that DeFo stands for. I’m just proud of him that he’s continuing to play the way that he is.”
We’ve been left guessing what conditions and why he’s so upset. Do you guys have an understanding of what his grievance is?
“Again, I’m going to leave those things. I do believe in the sanctity as I’ve mentioned, of those things remaining private. So, I’m going to stay with that.”
Three months ago, everything seemed great. He was your best player and was content and happy. Now it’s not that. Are you surprised by the 180 that’s going on here?
“Sure, but that’s life, you have to work through things. And so that’s what we intend on doing.”
You said you can’t imagine a scenario where you move on from a player like that. Is there a number of draft picks where you could begin to imagine a scenario where you can move on from a player like that?
“We’ve been consistent since we’ve been here in that we listen on just about anyone. That’s something we’ll always do. But like I said, I can’t ever imagine moving on from Deebo. He’s been such a great player for us. He means so much to this franchise. I’ve got nothing but love for the guy.”
Where do things stand with DL Nick Bosa and a potential contract extension?
“Yeah, you guys will see, we exercised his fifth-year option today. So, I think as you come out of here, you’ll probably see that. And I’ve maintained consistently that Nick, in our minds, we’re going to do everything we can to keep him a part of this organization. He’s a foundational player, much like Deebo, a difference maker. And he’s just a year out, because he was a first-round pick. And so, we exercised that fifth-year option and, at the appropriate time, we’ll endeavor to make that a reality that he’s here for a long time, but it’s all good there.”
Has C Alex Mack made a final decision on whether or not to continue playing?
“Not a final. We’ve been in discussions with Alex, communicating with him and I think I would say, the common theme here today, I’m not going to speak for Alex on that. I think at the appropriate time, Alex will comment on that.”
How do you feel about the offensive line as a whole right now? Do you feel that it’s ready to give QB Trey Lance the best shot at success?
“Yeah, I do feel good. And that’s something with nine picks, that’s an area where we could look to bolster. We’ve had a philosophy that you always want to be strong up front and you start with [T] Trent Williams out at left tackle. We drafted a couple young players last year that we’re very excited about. And they’re going to have to make the most of their opportunities, [OL] Aaron Banks and [OL] Jaylon Moore. We were very happy with both of them. I think a lot of people probably crossed the signals because they weren’t playing their rookie year, that wasn’t the case. We just had guys in front of them that were very hard to beat out. [New York Jets G] Laken [Tomlinson] obviously moved on. And so, there’s an open spot there and a lot of people will compete for it, but I think Banks has a great shot at that. And Jaylon’s a guy we’re really excited about, he’s worked his tail off this offseason. [OL Daniel] Danny Brunskill remains here and Dan’s a hard guy to beat out, he’s going to push and he’s always going to do what’s necessary to hang on. And we’ve got some guys like [OL Jake] Brendel and Brunskill has versatility to go play center. And then we’re really excited about having [T] Mike McGlinchey back as well. Mike’s a good player and a guy who’s meant a lot to us and our success around here and watching he and [DT Javon] Kinlaw out here kind of become partners in the rehab process has been a fun evolution to watch them get better. And he’s doing really well and we’re going to give him the necessary time to be fully healthy and I think he’ll be back to being a big part of who we are.”
Where do things stand with QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s health, his shoulder and there’s been some talk that you could actually carry his salary?
“Yeah. Jimmy is working hard in the rehab process. He did his surgery down in Los Angeles and is doing the rehab down there. We’ve been in contact with his representation and in communication with him. I think the progress is good. So, he’s tracking kind of right where we said, throwing towards the end of June and then ramping it up from there. So, that’s where that’s at.”
Is there a scenario where you see him still on the roster?
“Absolutely. I said at the owner’s meetings, guys like that don’t fall out of trees. He’s a good player at a position where they’re hard to find. And so, you certainly don’t just give guys like that away and we can, I guess foot the bill, if you want to describe it as that. And so, we’ll be patient with that one.”
Do you see a scenario where Deebo is on the roster opening day?
Back to Jimmy’s shoulder surgery decision, was there a trade in the works where he needed to take a physical and that revealed that he needed surgery?
“No, it never got to that point. There were certainly the various discussions that were at different places in terms of how far along, and that certainly threw a wrench in those things. But you adapt and you move forward. And like we said, we like things that Jimmy brings to the table. And so, we’re doing what we think is best for our team and for Jimmy by keeping him with us for right now.”
Whether it’s Deebo or who you’re talking about drafting, how much you guys talk internally about making sure that Trey Lance has the maximum support that he needs to have success when he takes over?
“Always. As you’re putting together your team, as you’re putting together your offense. I’ve always spoken to it, I think our coaches have a great understanding of what we covet, of the traits that we covet at each position, but certainly when you make an investment in a quarterback like we have in Trey, you want to set him up for success. And so, we’re always talking about that. We’re always conscious of that. And we think we’ve got a good roster. For George Kittle to be there for him. [WR] Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, [WR] Jauan Jennings, all these guys. We added Ray-Ray McCloud [III] that we really think can be a great fit, not only on special teams, but within our offense. We’re excited about these guys and we plan on adding to that.”
If Alex Mack decides to retire, would you expect a rookie center to come in and pick up Kyle’s offense to the extent that he could be a 17-game starter?
“Yeah. It’s a tough position to come in and play right away. You’d be going from one extreme, one of the brighter players in terms of football and communication in Alex Mack. And experienced, just got a lot of experience to a young player, but sure. That happens a lot. And one thing about our system, I don’t think there’s as much on the center in terms of making every protection call and things of that nature as a lot of systems. Alex, we probably afforded him that opportunity because he was so capable, but that doesn’t have to be the case. And so, there’s things we can do, but absolutely.”
A common critique of your offseason so far is that you haven’t accomplished your main objectives. You haven’t extended Deebo, you haven’t traded Jimmy. You haven’t used the cap space that you could have created by trading Jimmy. And so, you’re having a subpar offseason. How would you respond to that?
“I think that’s the noise that’s out there. We feel really good about our offseason. We took a hard look at our roster and said, ‘where do we need to be better?’ And we think we’ve addressed those areas. I think a common theme was we wanted to be better, holistically, on special teams, but we never just want to have special teams players. We want guys that are fits into our offense or defense. And I think Ray-Ray McCloud is a perfect example of that, [LB] Oren Burks is a perfect example of that. A very good special teams player, but also a very capable linebacker who provides depth. I think [S] George Odom is another example, a guy who started meaningful games for the Colts last year and played at and what we thought was a really high-level at safety, but this guy’s an all-pro special teams player as well. You add a guy like [DL] Kemoko Turay late, he’s got very good rush skills and we feel like he can thrive in our system. And we like a lot of what I did, [CB] Charvarius Ward, that was our number one goal to add a top-flight corner that can match up with the top receivers in this league. And man, I can’t tell you how excited we are about Charvarius. And so, I mentioned before, and I think a lot of people see that correlation between the money that Jimmy is due and that is somehow prohibiting us from doing what we wanted to do, that wasn’t the case. We had a plan, we’ve been very aggressive, top five, top ten team in terms of cash. And we’ve had the pedal down for five years. It was time to probably, on the whole, take a step back in terms of the amount of cash and cap we were spending. And so that was planned all along. And still, I think despite those kinds of challenges we were able to have, what I believe, is a really productive offseason. And I’m really excited with where our team’s at.”
There was a report earlier in the spring that Trey was assured he’d be the starting quarterback. Is that accurate?
“All these reports, I don’t know where they all come from, but we always believe in competition. I think though, at the same time, we are great believers in what Trey Lance brings to the table. We believe he’s ready. He’s going to have to show that and I think he’s ready to show that to us, show that to his teammates and show that to the world, so we’re excited for that opportunity that he has.”
You guys haven’t been shy about moving around in the first round when you had picks and moved back in the round. What would a scenario look like this year if you were to go into the first-round and how much has it been discussed?
“Yeah, because we’re so far back, it takes a lot of our, and I think when you start talking about a draft that the volume of it is probably the strength, there’s a good thought just to stay put and even go back and acquire more picks. But then I think you also have to take into account when you look at our roster we’re already at 76, 77, 78 people, right around there, in terms of what we have right now, there’s not a ton of holes as we see it, needs. And so that gives you the flexibility to go up when you really like a player. And so that’s something we haven’t hesitated to do in the past and I think it’s going to be different. It’s going to be a little boring on day one. We’re not used to that. We’re used to having some action and we’ll see, that might happen again. But, otherwise, we’ll kind of sit through and continue to work so that when we get to our pick, whenever that is, we’re ready to make it the best move for the 49ers.”
Going back to what you said about Alex Mack. I think I understand, but just to clarify, does the possibility exist he could actually play this year?
“I think that, yeah, that still remains a possibility. He hasn’t spoken on it with finality, but I think it does remain fluid.”
It seems like you’d like an answer before the draft begins.
“We’ve been in communication, so, part of that too, I would never speak for a player when he’s got news, so I’m not going to do that, but yes, we will continue to be in communication with Alex.”
With other players in the locker room seeing the trouble Deebo is having getting an extension, what will they think when it’s their turn to get an extension, as a former player? Do you put yourself in their shoes?
“Yeah, I think this is normal. I don’t think it’s been trouble getting an extension, there’s a lot of layers to things. And so, I wouldn’t read too much into that. I think our track record’s actually excellent. When you look at players, every player that’s come here, the fact that we’ve never had a significant holdout since we’ve been here, I think speaks to that. We don’t plan on doing that moving forward. So, I’m real proud of our track record there, and our players know that. I think there’s really good lines of communication. When you play well here, you’re rewarded, for the most part. And we’re proud of that. And I think that it’s not about words, it’s about our actions. And I think our actions have reflected that over time.”
Has this been the most trying offseason you’ve had so far since you got here?
“I think the nature of this job is that it’s always trying and I think that’s also what makes it fun. It’s why I continue to do it. It’s something new every day. I can’t say that sometimes those things aren’t trying, but I like those challenges and I like the challenge of pulling a group together along with Kyle and trying to get the best out of us. And I’m proud of what we’ve done. We haven’t done enough though, because we haven’t won a championship. We’ve knocked on the door a couple of times. And so, what I’m fueled by is the promise of finding a way to get a little bit better, so that we can take that next step and continue to compete for them. But find a way to get over that hump, and that’s what drives me each and every day.”
The Deebo market changed this offseason, it seems the free agent contracts handed out or some of the trades made, has that market changed dramatically?
“I just think you could see it setting up because there were so many good players that were coming due, that were free or approaching the time that you could talk about their contracts. And I think that bodes well for football. There’s a lot of good players at that position right now. They’re being featured with the way this league is throwing the ball all over the place. And so, I think you could see it coming. And I think it’s been an interesting offseason in terms of that. There’s been some movement, there’s been some guys, some really good players, who have done that. And, I think that’s always part of this league.”
What stands out to you about this incoming class of wide receivers?
“This incoming class, I think much like the draft, there’s just a lot of volume to the class. And there’s a little bit of everything, if you like speed, there’s some guys who can flat out get it. Some of the faster players that have been around since I’ve been doing this, these guys can fly. And their speed transfers to the football field. Oftentimes you can track guys and it isn’t necessarily the case. There’s some guys and it’s so interesting with the GPS readings we get now, you can see it on film, but then it’s verified. And so, I think there’s that. You think of some of the top players in the first round, there’s some bigger players who also move extremely well. So, there’s slot players that are good players. I do think there’s good versatility and there’s good depth. And so, there’s just a lot of options at the wide receiver class in this draft that it makes it a really good class.”
Just some clarification on Bosa, does picking up the fifth-year option change your approach to him and the extension? Is that still something that you’re working on this offseason and is he here, currently?
“Yeah, as to the first part of the question, the fifth-year option just means in ‘23, we executed that. We can work on an extension at any time. And we’ve been in really good communication with Brian Ayrault, Nick’s representation. And at the appropriate time, we’ll take those next steps. Nick is not here right now, but it has nothing to do with the contract. He and Kyle communicated and he’s working out back in Florida. He and his brother have their trainer. And believe me, Nick Bosa is working. He shows that each and every time he shows up, that he’s in elite shape.”
Last year Kyle joined you for this session. Did you invite him this time?
“He’s always invited. Last year, just kind of on a whim, I think he wanted to have some fun, so he came and joined me, but I just left him and he was actually, we were studying some different scenarios at 61, so that’s what we were doing when I last left him. And I think he was too engrossed in that, so you got stuck with me.”
As you’re preparing for OTAs here and in the past, it seems like you’ve had nearly 100% attendance.
“Yeah, really good. We’re up over 90%, but phase two starts Monday of next week and we’ll get pretty much the remainder of guys that aren’t here back. So, we’ll be close to 100% come phase two. Phase two, the coaches get out on the fields with our guys, but our attendance is really good right now. And it speaks to the job I think our health and performance staff do. Guys like training here, we have a lot of resources for those guys. And so, they like being a part of the program and then phase two, we’ll get some more back, so I’m real happy about that.”