Lynch on Shanahan during broadcast: 'I'd be hiring that guy in a second'

Lynch on Shanahan during broadcast: 'I'd be hiring that guy in a second'

John Lynch, whom the 49ers hired Sunday to be general manager, saw his future coach Kyle Shanahan two weeks ago and made a comment that proved to be a portend.

Shanahan, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator, had just dialed up a play that resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to running back Tevin Coleman. The play gave the Falcons a 19-10 lead late in the second quarter against the Seahawks in the divisional playoff game.

Lynch was calling the game as a FOX analyst, alongside play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt. It is customary for TV crews to meet with the top coaches and players for both teams in production meetings to gain insights leading up to the game.

“You know, Kyle, I think he goes in these production, er, excuse me, interviews and maybe comes off a little confident, a little arrogant,” Lynch said. “I don’t care. I want an arrogant coach. I want a confident coach. I’d be hiring that guy in a second.”

Actually, it turns out that Shanahan, 37, played the major role in hiring Lynch, 45, to his first job as an NFL executive.

Lynch will come out of the broadcast booth to be in charge of the 49ers’ personnel department. He and Shanahan will receive contracts of six years in length, according to a source. The 49ers are prohibited from officially hiring Shanahan until after Super 51 on Feb. 5.

Here are some other comments Lynch made about Shanahan during the course of Falcons’ 36-20 victory over the Seahawks in an NFC divisional-round game on Jan. 14.

In the first quarter after Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was called for defensive holding:
“When we met with the Falcons the other day, Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, said, ‘Look, we’re not going to complain about calls. When you play Seattle, you know you’re going to get held on every play. Beat it.’ Kyle Shanahan’s dad, Mike Shanahan, I played for him. I used to hear him all the time. ‘If you can’t beat man coverage, you’re complaining about holding, start selling cars. That’s part of the job.’”

On the first play after taking over at their own 1-yard line in the second quarter, Ryan hit receiver Julio Jones for an 8-yard gain:
“One of the things I think they do, Kevin, we just saw them throw from the end zone. They don’t play scared. They attack people. When you have great weapons, that’s how you should play. Matt Ryan said the first thing Dan Quinn said to the team, ‘Offense, defense, we’re going to be the best attacking offense in football, the best attacking defense.’ They attack people.”

After Ryan hit Jones on a 12-yard gain early in the third quarter:
“Kyle Shanahan continuing to design plays that are really tough to defend.”

Lynch referenced Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner, who also coached with Kyle Shanahan and under Mike Shanahan with Washington, after Coleman’s 7-yard gain in the third quarter:
“Bobby Turner, the running back coach for the Atlanta Falcons, is the same guy who coached in Denver. Terrell Davis. That’s the style of running. You stretch, stretch, stretch, you see someone get cut down on the back side, and then you hit it downhill. Tevin Coleman doing it to perfection.”

After running back Devonta Freeman was matched against Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril on a play that went for a 53-yard pass play, Lynch talked about how Shanahan took advantage of the injury to that left the Seahawks without safety Earl Thomas:
“You got Cliff Avril right there on Devonta Freeman. That is a mismatch. And that’s what Kyle Shanahan talked about. There you see the missing of Earl Thomas. That kind of move in space, Earl Thomas is likely to make that tackle and Steven Terrell can’t. But Kyle Shanahan talked in the first matchup. They kept Freeman in and blocked when they ran those blitzes. This time, he said, ‘We’re not going to keep him in. We’re going to put him out there on those defensive ends.’ Great job by the Atlanta Falcons. They have so much speed on this offense.

On Coleman and Freeman as a pair of running backs:
“There’s no better tandem in the league. They throw so much at you as all-around backs. They beat you rushing the ball. They beat you in the pass game. We’ve seen it. They both can fly. Kyle Shanahan is an offensive coordinator who knows how to utilize them.”

Late in the game:
“I think Julio Jones said it really well. He said, ‘John, Kevin, you’ve been there. When you’re confident, when you know something inside and out, your talent can come to the forefront. Last year, Matt Ryan did not have a grasp of this entire scheme.’ Kyle Shanahan throws a lot at you. He goes after people, so it’s a different game plan each week. . . The familiarity. Dan Quinn said, ‘You two are going to hang out this offseason.’ Matt Ryan, Kyle Shanahan, they got the scheme down and you’re seeing the rewards. . . This is a fabulous offense.”


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”