49ers GM John Lynch prepares as if NFL season to remain on schedule


The 49ers were scheduled to come together in Santa Clara on Monday to begin their offseason program.

Now, they only are allowed to meet virtually.

No on-field work for NFL clubs is allowed until all 32 club facilities can be reopened in accordance to federal, state and local guidelines, as it relates to fears over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The NFL opened the free-agent signing period on time in March. And the draft will go forward as scheduled Thursday through Saturday. The league has also promised to release its 17-week regular-season schedule no later than May 9.

But what about the rest of the NFL calendar? Training camp? Preseason games? A full 16-game season for all teams?

What does 49ers general manager John Lynch believe will happen?

“That kind of changes based on the last person I talked to,” Lynch said this week.

Lynch said he hears compelling cases that present scenarios for the season being canceled, as well as the games being played as planned.

Ultimately, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will make the decision based on consultation with experts in the field of epidemiology and the guidelines put in place by jurisdictions in NFL cities.

“I think the answer, the only one I know, is when it's safe,” Lynch said. “How we arrived there? That's what Commissioner Goodell and his team of people get paid the big bucks for because I can't answer that. I'm not going to try to answer that. What I do know is my charge right now has been prepare for a draft like we're playing and that's what our team has tried to do.”


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Lynch acknowledged there was some skepticism about the league’s decision to move forward with free agency and the draft. But he said he believes the normalcy of the NFL’s offseason calendar has provided benefits during the pandemic.

“I've had conflicted feelings and you understand that people are out there hurting,” Lynch said. “They've closed their small business down. The real-life stuff that matters. They have people in their family who have been directly affected by this and at times I went through it. I'm sure a lot of people did. Like ‘What the heck are we doing having free agency? What are we doing having a draft?’

“I will tell you after free agency, I can't tell you how many people who called or touched base and said, ‘Thank God you did that because it's the only thing we've got to keep us entertained.’ ”

Lynch said he stopped his draft preparation on Sunday night to watch “The Last Dance,” a documentary on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls'1997-98 season. Lynch said, like most of the country, he was “craving” new and exciting sports entertainment. The NFL certainly will take center stage in the United States with the draft this week.

The 49ers have tried to make the best of the challenges that each team faces during the shelter-in-place regulations.

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Around the NFL, New Orleans coach Sean Payton and Denver defensive star Von Miller revealed they dealt with the virus. A member of the Los Angeles Rams also reportedly tested positive.

Lynch declined to answer when asked if anyone within the 49ers has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“We were really prepared for this,” Lynch said. “One thing as you’re working with your team is legally I'm not at liberty to share certain things with people that's up to certain people. I’m just going to leave it at that. But I'm really proud with the way our team and organization has responded to all these challenges.”