The 49ers locker room is set up perfectly for Trey Lance’s arrival to go seamlessly.
Some NFL teams experience growing pains when a veteran player’s successor is set to arrive on the scene. Sometimes the issues arise immediately but with other organizations, (i.e. Green Bay Packers) the situation festers and comes to light months or maybe even seasons later.
General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan have built a roster that not only is talented but high-character. It has proven to be an invaluable quality, especially when considering what the team has withstood since the two figure heads arrived in Santa Clara.
“All our guys’ character is a big decision,” Shanahan said on Saturday. “It starts with what we think, what we see on tape, and then you want to know what you’re bringing in to your place, whether that makes you believe he’s going to get better than what you see on tape or worse.
“And then also whether he is going to fit in and be a good part of the Niners, be a good part of our team."
Both Shanahan and Lynch were very clear that the evaluation begins with what they see on tape, but how much a player loves the game is a requirement that is at the top of their list of criteria.
“It’s not if, it’s when you’re going to face adversity in this league,” Lynch said. “This is a tough league. I think obviously at quarterback that’s probably more than any other position. You’re going to face adversity.
“So are you made up the right way that you can respond to that? That is very important to us with all our players, the spirit, we call it.”
Acquiring players with this in mind through the draft and free agency has proved to be very important to the survival of the 49ers. Not only has the Lynch and Shanahan Era experienced three of four losing seasons, but 2020 brought challenges that no one could have ever predicted.
The entire league adjusted to the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic had on the game as well as personally, but the 49ers were dealt a worse hand than most. Not only did the club incur one of the highest numbers of long-term injuries in the league during 2020, they survived what no other team experienced — a mid-season relocation to Arizona.
“First of all, do you love this game, because you better, because it is hard,” Lynch said. “We’ve both lived it and we know it and I think what happens to us we’ve got a culture of a bunch of guys here who really so because we look for that.
“You stand out like a sore thumb when you don’t, so I think we continue to refine that, We look for guys the are very dependable and when you do that, I think you do better when the tough times hit and tough times do hit.”
The 49ers' locker room has a history of welcoming new players into the fold. When Emmanuel Sanders arrived in the middle of the 2019 season, he remarked how surprising it was to be immediately accepted by the group.
When Jimmy Garoppolo first arrived in the middle of the 2017 season, players immediately went out of their way to assist the signal caller’s transition. Now, with the tables turned, the veteran quarterback immediately reached out to get Trey Lance’s phone number, sending the No. 3 pick a welcome text.
The 49ers do not have the only close locker room in the league but their level of character sets them up to have less issues than most.