One phrase will define Lynch's first year as 49ers GM

One phrase will define Lynch's first year as 49ers GM

John Lynch’s Hearts And Minds tour as the newest general manager of the San Francisco 49ers began Monday with a conference call that affirmed . . . well, that no matter what others may think, he’s still taking the job.

And in fact, he said no fewer than eight times how excited he is to have the job. Which, frankly, is what you’d want from a new hire -- especially one who has been portrayed in public as the last meal in the restaurant based on the number of candidates who turned down the job.

Lynch, the mega-surprise choice to fill Trent Baalke’s cushy office and the mess that issued forth from within, handled his first presser with expected deftness, volleying comfortably though without much specificity on most subjects. He did acknowledge that his entrée into the job was a long talk with Kyle Shanahan, whom he was careful not to confirm as his coach, in which their cultural visions seemed to mesh enough to convince Shanahan to pitch Lynch to Jed York.

And after interviews and vetting that Lynch said he insisted upon, he won York over despite the seeming disqualifier of his prosciutto-thin resume. Up until now, for example, his closest brush with football finances is when he was told by then-Tampa Bay general manager Bruce Allen that his contract would not be restructured and that he had to leave the Bucs . . . whereupon he put in four more valuable seasons in Denver and met Mike Shanahan, who begat Kyle, thereby creating the beginning of the newest era in 49er history.

And he embraced the counter-intuitive nature of his hire as his lot in life, from his start at Stanford as a baseball player (he would eventually be the first official pitcher for the Florida Marlins while playing for the minor league Erie Sailors) who was convinced by Bill Walsh that he could become a Pro Bowl safety if he played football exclusively.

And now, amazingly, there is this stranger than strange turn.

Lynch acknowledged that he will be reporting directly to taking his orders, such as they are, directly from York rather than Paraag Marathe, though he did acknowledge Marathe’s reputation for negotiating and budgetary skill. He was less expansive about what his duties would specifically entail, even down to who controlled the 53-man roster, as Baalke did during his tenure. Presumably he and Shanahan will collaborate more amicably than Baalke and Jim Harbaugh, just as it is likely that he will be more amenable to the idea of the general public than Baalke was, since Lynch's interviewing skills clearly mesmerized York enough to win the job.

Lynch also said that despite his dearth of suit-based experience (he rose to the lofty positions of Pro Bowl safety and Hall of Fame finalist while being wholly unburdened by the weight of front office training), he studied the parameters of the job under John Elway in Denver – who in fairness was dealing with a far more solid operation than Lynch inherits.

“The best case is John,” Lynch said. “ We both went to Stanford, he looked out for me when I got to Denver, and he’s become one of my closest friends. I feel fortunate to have watched the job he did with the organization.”

He also said more than once that “I know what I don’t know,” which is the sentence that will most likely define him, but he defended his base of knowledge.

“I know football,” he said, “I’ll put my football acumen up against anyone in the game. And I know how to lead.”

Lynch reminded the gaggle of conference-call eavesdroppers that he came to an organization in Tampa in 1993 that had lost for 10 consecutive seasons and would for six more after he got there before finally winning the Super Bowl in 2003.

But for Lynch, the devil of knowing his level of quality will be in the details. As he wanted media silence so that he could evaluate the job in relative peace, he was vague on his post-employment parameters, including his future staff both in-house and not yet accumulated. He did acknowledge and single out 49er senior personnel executive Tom Gamble as an invaluable resource, and he was equally opaque on his overarching vision save “competing,” “being aggressive,” “working hard,” and “attacking.”

But until he’s gotten a season or two nailed to his headboard (remember, it took Reggie McKenzie four years to reverse the foundering S.S. Raider), all we know is that he “knows what he doesn’t know.” That sentence will define him in the short term, while tidying up the disarray of the 49ers is entirely a longterm job. How quickly he changes the ratio of what he knows from what he doesn’t will determine if this was Jed York’s most inspired idea, or the desperate flail of a man who has no intention of acknowledging what he doesn’t know.


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear


Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear

Safety Eric Reid, who has 69 career starts and one Pro Bowl appearance in his five-year NFL career, remains available on the open market more than a week after the opening of free agency.

Reid has received no reported interest from NFL teams in what has been an unusually soft market for free-agent safeties. But, with Reid, there is another variable that could be playing a factor.

Reid was at the forefront of the social activism that has been a major storyline in the NFL since the beginning of the 2016 season. Reid and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in America.

Reid has remained outspoken and has taken a knee as a way to “make people uncomfortable about the issues.” Reid has been clear his protest has nothing to do with the flag or the anthem.

“The anthem is just a vehicle to get us to have those conversations,” Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area last season. “It’s the platform we have. It’s the only time we have to get the eyeballs on us to do that. If we just did locker-room talks afterward, nobody would even know. Strategically, this is the only way we thought we could do it.”

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10, had been the Seattle Seahawks’ player representative. He is a vice president of the NFL Players Association. Reid was the 49ers’ union representative.

Sherman said he is keeping a close eye on Reid’s situation.

“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year that he’s played in this league,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “He’s made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. He deserves his money. Safeties make a certain amount. I would think he’s top-five, top-10 safeties in this league, so he deserves to be paid accordingly.

“So there is concern there, because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now. I think great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players. I’m praying that he gets picked up. But if he doesn’t, then I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential league action.”

Kaepernick never got so much as an opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot during training camp last season. Could Reid, 26, be heading for the same fate?

Reid addressed the issue last week on social media:

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”

The 49ers have not placed a priority on re-signing Reid. The club already has potential starting safeties Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert under contract for the upcoming season.

Reid, whom the 49ers traded up to select with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has 10 career interceptions. He appeared to thrive last season in run support as a safety who played closer to the line of scrimmage.