General Manager John Lynch Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch
Press Conference – November 1, 2022
San Francisco 49ers
Can you kind of just take us through the process of the last several hours and how this all came to be?
“Yeah, so Miami, they reached out probably the first time, I don’t know, a week ago. And just kind of conceptually talked about having interest in [RB] Jeff [Wilson Jr.]. Everything kind of went quiet and we really, as [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] has communicated with you guys, we were really not looking to move him. Jeff had communicated with us in a fashion that, of course he loved it here, but he also was loving being an integral part of a football team. And once we did the [RB] Christian [McCaffrey] deal, kind of seeing [RB] Elijah [Mitchell] close to returning, he wanted the opportunity to continue to be able to do that. And we assured him how much we valued him, but that if all those things came to fruition and there was a team that was willing to give what we deemed the appropriate price that we try to work with him, but I also said, ‘Jeff, you’re too important to us.’ We believe we have the team to do it, and you’re very important to that. Miami came hard probably yesterday, but then all the way down to this morning and a fifth is kind of where Kyle and I had it set, and they ended up giving it. And at that point, we felt like as hard as it was, when I talked to Jeff to tell him he was on the plane going back to Texas, pilot talking and all of that. You like doing these things in person, but that was the flow of the of the timing. And at first Jeff was excited. He felt like Miami was a great spot, obviously knows [head coach] Mike [McDaniel] and the crew, and then the emotions hit him. I was able to share with him that like, look you’re not only one of my favorite players that I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around, you’re one of my favorite people and I think Jeff feels the same way. Undrafted free agent, who really has been a tremendous story here. His perseverance, coming off countless injuries and playing the way he’s played, and always got a smile on his face. He’s a special player, so tough to do, but we felt like the value, especially in light of what we gave to get Christian was something that that we couldn’t pass up on, so we made the deal.”
On Sunday, neither of your rookies had a carry was that part of the equation that it would be hard to develop two young guys in a room that was so full of veterans?
“Ultimately, we’re going to be about winning, but I think winning long-term, you have to play your young guys. I will tell you, [RB] Jordan Mason was outstanding on special teams the other day. He really played in every, you look for those four core guys that are playing all the units, Jordan did a tremendous job really becoming a valuable piece there. [RB] Ty [Davis-Price] is a guy we’re extremely high on. I do think there’s a learning curve in this offense to play, but we think highly of both those young men, we felt like, I’m not going to put a timetable on Elijah, but that he’s close to returning. And we all know what Elijah has meant to this team, and as well as Jeff was playing you know, we also have [RB] Tevin [Coleman] on practice squad, so we felt really good about our group and fifth round value was we felt something that as I mentioned earlier, was good value.”
Just as far as Elijah Mitchell is his timetable such that he could possibly play in the next game against the Los Angeles Chargers?
“I think it’s certainly a possibility. Elijah will be around here. The old adage in football, if you don’t play, you stay during a BYE Week and that’s the case. All those guys are staying around here, doing their rehab and Elijah’s one of those guys, he’s been tracking really well, but we’ll see how he is when we return on Monday. He’s going to, like I said, be here working hard just as he has been. And the progress has been good. Where that ends up, I’m not sure.”
Given your history of success with fifth-round picks, how excited are you to have another one of those under your belt?
“Well, they have been good to us, fifth round picks. I don’t know why, but they have been good to us and hey, we’ll take as many of those as we can, but we don’t do it lightly. I keep saying it, but Jeff is a special human being and really was having a great year. Decisions like that are never made lightly, but we do feel great about that running back room.”
What kind of communications did you or Kyle have with Mike McDaniel? Obviously, there’s familiarity among all you guys and Jeff’s familiarity with that system.
“On one of the last calls I had with [Miami Dolphins general manager] Chris Grier, Mike happened to be in the room and Kyle was downstairs, so I said, you guys are ganging up on me. One of the things Mike wanted to assure was he knows how special Jeff is to us. He wanted to assure us that he’d take good care of him. Mike’s a great dude and part of this, you have to make decisions that are great for your team, but you also try to take care of guys that have taken care of you. And I think, not saying that Jeff demanded to be traded or anything, but I think given the situation, if we could find the right situation for him, I don’t know if begrudgingly is the right word, but he wanted that opportunity and we found a, I think a really good situation for him, and good for us as well.”
Did he give you a list of teams that he would want to go to?
“No, he didn’t. His agent might have behind the scenes, but with Jeff communication was direct. Kyle and he spoke a couple times. Jeff and I spoke a couple times and we were kind of clear with him like, ‘look it’s going to have to be something significant because we value you greatly.’ And he understood that, that’s kind of the way it worked out.”
How much does it make you feel just a little bit better that he is going to Mike McDaniel and a team there where you feel he will be taken care of?
“Yeah, except when we play him. I don’t feel great about that, but that was part of the deal, but I do, yes. I care greatly about Jeff Wilson. Believe me, that kid’s smile, he lifts me. How many times throughout our years here, he’s a warrior and through some really hard times, that kid, he’s just got a smile that makes everyone feel good and he’s got a fight to him, so I can’t say enough great things about him. I’m proud of him, I’m happy for him and I’m grateful for everything he brought here.”
We’ve covered recently that all trades involve somewhat of a gamble, but does it give you any more anxiety just given the recent history of running back injuries you’ve had, McCaffrey and Mitchell’s injury history and just how dependable Jeff has been when called into duty?
“Yeah, I think at that position that’s always part of the equation. I think what we had to do was weigh the depth even beyond that. We got have an extremely deep group. At some point, you can only keep so many just from a roster approach as well, so we knew when we made the Christian move that somebody was going to have to go and ultimately, Jeff’s the one that somebody made a move that we felt was worth moving on and we did, so that’s kind of my thoughts there.”