John Lynch

Lynch describes Garoppolo trade as Christmas morning -- not 'mourning'

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AP

Lynch describes Garoppolo trade as Christmas morning -- not 'mourning'

ORLANDO, Fla. – General manager John Lynch wants to make one thing clear about the 49ers’ quick decision in October to accept the trade proposal to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots.

It was a lot more like Christmas morning, Lynch said Monday at the NFL owners meetings, than it was a time for mourning.

Lynch raised more than a few eyebrows last week when he said during an early morning interview on ESPN radio that coach Kyle Shanahan was “in mourning” because the master plan was to eventually acquire Kirk Cousins as the 49ers’ franchise quarterback.

Lynch said the greater point he was trying to make is that Garoppolo made believers out of everybody in the organization shortly after his arrival in Santa Clara. The 49ers in February signed Garoppolo to a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension early this offseason.

“That day was really like Christmas to us,” Lynch said of the Oct. 30 trade with New England for a second-round draft pick. “Jimmy was a guy that we had coveted. We did a lot of work on him in the offseason. We’d attempted to make a deal. It was rebuffed on a couple of occasions. Shoot, when that opportunity fell into our lap, it was like Christmas.”

It was clear Shanahan has a high opinion of Cousins based on their time together with Washington and what Cousins has accomplished while starting 16 games each of the past three seasons. Shanahan considers Cousins as a better fit for his system than even Matt Ryan, who put together an MVP season in his second and final season with Shanahan as his coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

Cousins would be available in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent. With the 49ers out of the quarterback market, Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million fully guaranteed deal with the Minnesota Vikings.

When Lynch and Shanahan were hired in tandem a year ago, the 49ers did not have a quarterback under contract. And while they investigated their options at quarterback during the 2017 offseason, they believed it was in their best interest to play the waiting game and begin last season with placeholder Brian Hoyer as the starter.

“One of the first things we talked about, we got to get this position right,” Lynch said. “That’s the thing everyone is looking for. And we got to find that. A lot of people pop into that conversation. Kirk is now with the Vikings and we’re very happy for him. There was history there. So when there’s history, yeah, he’s in the conversation. But there were a lot of other people in the conversation, as well.”

After the 49ers made the trade for Garoppolo – after being rebuffed in previously trade talks with the Patriots – the onus fell on Garoppolo to prove he was the man for the job.

“I think the thing that impressed me so much was that he kept earning our respect, day-in and day-out, by the way he responded in the building, by the way he conducted himself around his teammates, by the way he played,” Lynch said. “That was obvious. So he earned the right, not only to become our starter, but he earned this contract that we gave him. We were happy to do it.”

Lynch said he and Shanahan believed Garoppolo was capable of being a face-of-the-franchise type of player. Then, he proved it on and off the field. After Garoppolo took over from rookie C.J. Beathard as the starter, the 49ers finished the season on a five-game win streak. A team that opened the season 1-10, finished with the momentum of a 6-10 record.

“We weren’t promising anything to anyone, and he was going to have to go earn it,” Lynch said. “The great part of this story is, he did. I think that’s something that Kyle and I both believe. You have to earn everything you get in this league. Shoot, we had a tremendous opportunity fall in our lap.

“We were given each other high fives and chest-bumps. There are so many conversations that go into what we were going to do at that position, but we had no assurances on anything. Then all of a sudden, this opportunity presented itself and we were thrilled. It didn’t take long – 10 minutes, may be a stretch. We were pretty convicted right away.”

And Lynch said Garoppolo did not wait long to begin proving to the 49ers that he was worthy of being – at least for a period of time – the highest-paid player in the game.

“There are certain things that became apparent the first day he came out on the field and threw it,” Lynch said. “It’s impressive. It’s impressive to watch the guy throw a football. There are very few people in this world that can (throw it) like him.”

Lynch said Garoppolo impressed the organization with the work he put in to learn Shanahan’s complex offensive system and it’s verbiage, which is completely different than what he experienced during his 3 ½ seasons with the Patriots. Garoppolo put in long, tedious hours of study to be prepared for when his time came to step onto the field.

Garoppolo wore a list of the play calls on his wristband as an insurance policy. After the final game, Garoppolo said he never once had to refer to the cheat sheet during his five starts.

Lynch explains his reasoning for trading Kilgore a month after extending him

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AP

Lynch explains his reasoning for trading Kilgore a month after extending him

There was only one center scheduled to become a free agent the 49ers would have wanted over Daniel Kilgore, general manager John Lynch said Thursday.

But because the 49ers did not know a month ago if they would be able to get that player, they went ahead and re-signed Kilgore to keep him off the free-agent market.

Lynch said the 49ers’ top two targets in free agency were center Weston Richburg and running back Jerick McKinnon. They negotiated against a handful of teams for the services of both players and finalized the deals on Wednesday at the opening of the free-agent signing period.

After the 49ers signed Richburg, the club worked a trade with the Miami Dolphins to send Kilgore to a team that needs a starting center.

“We thought about, do we play Weston at guard?” Lynch said. “Ultimately, once we decided to invest in someone, you put him at his best position. That happens to be his best position and center is Dan’s best position, too.”

Just one month ago, Kilgore signed a three-year, $11.75 million with the 49ers with the expectation he would remain with the club that selected him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Because of the way the deal was structured, the Dolphins will pick up every penny of the contract. The first payment from the Dolphins is a $2.3 million guaranteed roster bonus.

“I’ve been here for seven years,” Kilgore said on a conference call in mid-February. “I consider the Bay Area my second home. And to be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it.”

The availability of Richburg changed the 49ers’ plan, Lynch said.

Richburg was the only interior offensive linemen the 49ers pursued in free agency, Lynch said.. The team did not even place a call of interest to the agent of free-agent guard Andrew Norwell, who was not considered a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s blocking scheme.

Lynch was asked if there was anything he would have done differently in his handling of the center position this offseason.

“As we looked at this situation, we asked ourselves that question,” Lynch said. “But I really don’t think we could’ve. We are happy we were able to find a nice landing spot. He’s a starting center for an exciting team.”

Lynch, who played 15 NFL seasons, has made it a point to treat players as he would have wanted to be treated. He said the 49ers tried to do what was right for both sides.

They got little from the Dolphins in compensation for Kilgore. The 49ers sent Kilgore and the ninth pick of the seventh round (No. 227 overall) to the Dolphins in exchange for the fifth pick of the seventh round (No. 223 overall).

“I think our players know we genuinely care of them,” Lynch said. “I think they really get that. That’s one of our strengths, as far as the vibe we have going here. Yes, actions have to reflect that. I will tell you, we left this in a really good place with Danny. We’ve had really good conversations with him all the way through it.”

In other 49ers free-agent news . . .

Former 49ers defensive end/outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is signing a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears, the NFL Network reported. Lynch’s defensive coordinator will be Vic Fangio, who coached him as a rookie with the 49ers. Lynch had 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons, 2.5 in his last two years. The 49ers made no effort to re-sign him.

Lynch explains 49ers additions of McKinnon, Richburg

Lynch explains 49ers additions of McKinnon, Richburg

The 49ers on Wednesday announced the club has agreed to terms with running back Jerick McKinnon and center-guard Weston Richburg.

McKinnon will sign a four-year contract, while Richburg comes to the team on a five-year deal.

“Jerick and Weston were both at the top of our priority list heading into free agency, and being able to lock them in quickly was important to us,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said in a statement.

“Both men embody the 49ers spirit and check almost all the boxes on the list of characteristics we look for in a player. Most importantly, they are passionate about the game, have a desire to be great and are dedicated to doing what’s necessary to win in this league.”

McKinnon (5-9, 205) played his first four NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. McKinnon appeared in 58 games with 14 starts. He had 474 rushing attempts for 1,918 yards and seven touchdowns. McKinnon also caught 142 passes for 984 yards and five touchdowns. He appeared in three playoff games games and carried 20 times for 81 yards and one touchdown, while catching 17 passes for 114 yards.

Richburg (6-4, 300) was a second-round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2014. He appeared in 51 regular season games with 50 starts, as well as one start in the postseason. Richburg made 15 starts at left guard as a rookie. Every start since his rookie season was at center.

“We see Weston as one of the top young interior offensive linemen in the NFL,” Lynch said. “His athleticism, intelligence and attitude are a perfect fit for our scheme. Jerick has proven to be an extremely versatile football player whose speed, elusiveness and tackle-breaking ability make him a very difficult matchup for defenses. We can’t wait to get them on the field with their teammates and coaches later this spring.”