Lynch's work takes mind away from Hall of Fame angst

Lynch's work takes mind away from Hall of Fame angst

HOUSTON – John Lynch has been in this same position on three previous occasions, but this year it feels a lot different.

He has not been consumed this week with thinking about his chances of making it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No, something else has occupied his mind for several days.

But all it took was the sight of 71 men wearing the gold jackets they earned through their distinguished NFL careers to make him realize how his life could change on Saturday afternoon. Lynch is among the 15 modern-day finalists that will be discussed by the 48-member selection committe on Saturday. A maximum of five former players from the modern era will be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Lynch, who was hired as 49ers general manager on Sunday, is back in Houston to take part in a reception Thursday night and a luncheon on Friday. He said he had to excuse himself on several occasions to take work-related calls.

“This is my fourth year of being a finalist,” Lynch told CSNBayArea.com on Friday amid the Super Bowl activities in downtown Houston. “In past years, as this draws near, it’s very different because it’s absolutely out of your control. There’s nothing you can do. That’s unusual. So there is some angst, particularly when the weekend comes.

“But until I went to the reception last night and was around all the guys, I hadn’t thought of it once.”

Lynch made it into the top-10 last year before the final cut was made to the five individuals who were selected into the Hall of Fame.

Lynch, who earned nine trips to the Pro Bowl in 15 NFL seasons as a hard-hitting safety with Tampa Bay and Denver, has been trying to touch base with candidates for presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan’s staff.

CEO Jed York is not allowed to officially hire Shanahan, the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator, until after the season concludes with Super Bowl 51 against the New England Patriots on Sunday.

“Because our head coach, we’re not able to name him yet, I’ve been handling a lot of that -- interviewing coaches, just getting our list, here’s what we’re going to do first,” Lynch said. “It’s been non-stop.

“Next week could be a fun week, in terms of a lot of movement.”

Lynch has already strengthened the organization, he believes, with the addition of Adam Peters to serve as 49ers vice president of player personnel. Peters previous worked in the scouting departments of Denver and New England.

“Getting Adam Peters was a huge hire for me, because he’s someone I know and trust and value, as do many people in this league,” Lynch said. “So that was a great head start.”

Lynch developed a strong rapport with Peters when Lynch took part in Broncos meetings and prospect evaluations, which included a trip to the NFL scouting combine, prior to the 2013 draft.

“That month, month-and-a-half, I actually sat next to Adam every day,” Lynch said. “Those are long meetings. I’d listen to him and we’d talk in between about players. I just saw way back then, he’s a guy who’s highly respected in the league. I firmly believe in two, three years, he would’ve been a GM. He was on that track, at least.”

Broncos general manager John Elway has also assigned Lynch special projects in recent offseasons, such as evaluating the draft-eligible safeties. Still, Lynch is fully aware he will face a stiff learning curve.

“Watching John (Elway) and John talking to me, he’s told me, ‘You can do this; you know football,’” Lynch said. “That’s what I told Jed from the beginning. ‘Look, there will be a lot of things I’m learning.’ But what I do know football, I know people and I know how to lead. And the rest I’ll learn.”

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is a first-year member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles


49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

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Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII


PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4