John Lynch’s office sits on the second floor of the 49ers headquarters. At any time of the day, every day, he walks downstairs to Kyle Shanahan’s corner office to talk about the team.
“Usually after team meetings I’ve got a little bit of free time in my office, so he’ll come down and we’ll talk about whatever,” Shanahan said. “Sometimes he’ll come down and ask me questions about practice. Usually after walk-through at night, after dinner and stuff, when some of the coaches are in meetings with rookies, that’s when I have some time where I’m by myself and he can come down and we can talk about roster stuff or watch some of the practice together.”
The first-time general manager and first-time head coach will have much to discuss after the 49ers first preseason game against Kansas City. Lynch considers the exhibition game against the Chiefs “the next step” in their joint effort to rebuild the 49ers franchise.
“It’s the oldest adage in football, “What’s going to happen when the lights go on?” Lynch told NBCSportsBayArea.com in a recent 1-on-1 interview. “Throughout my career it’s something I realized, some guys look great in practice and you put them in a game and for whatever reason it just doesn’t translate. Other guys look OK at practice and then they step up to the moment. Then there are the guys you have a really good feeling just because they’re so consistent week in and week out. Those are our favorite, but there always are some surprises both ways.”
Lynch is pleased with the progress he’s seen from the overhauled roster. The good vibes at practices are pumping every bit as strong as the thumping tunes of DJ Kray. The general manager sees nearly 100 players who have embraced Shanahan’s coaching methods and becoming mentally tougher.
“We are going to either cut or get rid of some, in other ways, some NFL players. That wasn’t the case how we felt about this roster when we came in here six months ago,” Lynch said. “A good portion of it [the roster] I think we have a really good idea, but these final 10 roster spots, you have guys really playing for their careers, and that’s always fun about the preseason for me."
The decisions on who will remain on the 53-man roster begin to take form Friday night. Shanahan and his staff have a plan for who is going to play and for how long for all four preaseon games. But the head coach has not done much game planning for the Chiefs.
“To be honest with you it’s miserable for a coach. You never want to go out and look bad and get embarrassed. But I also am very well aware that any play that works in the preseason will not work in the regular season. So, you don’t want to waste anything either,” Shanahan said. “It’s that inner turmoil that you’re constantly battling as a coach. Try to be simple, try to be vanilla and try to win the game.”
Winning their first preseason game may or may not help Lynch and Shanahan gauge exactly how far the team has come in their six months on the job. But it certainly would be a nice conversation to have.