49ers

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

NFL draft: 49ers GM John Lynch on how he's learned from past mistakes

As 49ers GM John Lynch and his staff head into their third draft, Lynch admits that they are using lessons learned from Reuben Foster and Joe Williams to help prevent the same draft mishaps from happening again. 

Lynch has spoken about needing to be aggressive in taking players that will improve the franchise while taking into account a solid locker room environment. A few of Lynch's picks have backfired, but he says the team has learned from their mistakes. He spoke about how his past two seasons have been a learning process, while also admitting that sometimes you still have to take risks. 

“I think a combination of both,” Lynch said. “If you aren’t always learning, shame on you, shame on us. I think with Reuben, I think we somewhat accounted for it by where we drafted him. I think we had him at a certain value. We didn’t draft him there. That doesn’t excuse us. It’s a shame. 

“We’re very happy to have Kwon Alexander, but that came at a heavy price. We would’ve much preferred to have Reuben still playing here. So, of course, you learn a lesson.” 

The heavy price for the 49ers was Alexander’s five-year $54 million contract. Foster would have cost much less under his four-year rookie contract that was worth just over $9 million. 

Foster had a few red flags prior to the draft, including being sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine after a confrontation with a hospital worker and a diluted urine test. His troubles continued with assault allegations and other off-the-field issues. 

Lynch detailed the slight variations to their pre-draft vetting process that was made, in part, because of what they learned from Foster. 

“There are certain tweaks we’ve made,” Lynch said. “Our 30 visits this year, we brought people more in a group setting. We want to see how they interact with other people. So, those are subtle things that we do.”

Meanwhile, Williams spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve and then was released prior to the 2018 season. He was a player who had great game film, especially just before the draft when he ran for a record-setting 332 yards in the Foster Farms Bowl at Levi’s Stadium. 

As with Foster, Williams had his share of red flags as well. He quit football after being at Utah for a season to deal with issues regarding family matters. He rejoined the team when they were in desperate need at running back. 

Since drafting Williams, Lynch has been very vocal about acquiring players who love the game of football, almost reminding himself to not forget the miss in his first draft. The positive side is that the team released Williams after his second offseason instead of holding out hope that he would develop and pan out.   

“As to Joe, I think that was a pick, it didn’t work out,” Lynch said. “But, in every scenario, whether something worked or didn’t work, you take note. We try to do that in each individual case.”
 
“There’s so much that just goes into the research of these players. You learn something every year. I think the most important thing, you impart upon your scouts, upon your staff is, ‘We have to be as thorough as humanly possible.’”

[RELATED: Final first-round NFL mock draft]

For a GM without front office experience, Lynch surrounded himself with experienced people. The past two 49ers draft classes have been far from perfect -- but that can be said about every draft class. Lynch just hopes to improve each season by learning from his past. 

“Anything we can learn about these guys is valuable information,” Lynch said. “I’m real proud of the work we’ve done with our staff to get as much information to be equipped to make as good a decision as possible.”
 
“You work hard to try to identify what is the lesson that you learned. We know in-house what those lessons are.” 

49ers sign kicker Robbie Gould to four-year contract as holdout ends

49ers sign kicker Robbie Gould to four-year contract as holdout ends

After months of acrimony, a deadline brought the 49ers and kicker Robbie Gould together,

The two sides agreed to terms Monday morning on a contract extension, a league source confirmed. The 49ers announced the agreement later Monday afternoon.

“Over the years, Robbie has established himself as one of the best at his position in the NFL, which is precisely why we were so committed to working out a new contract with him,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to make this deal come to fruition. We are very happy to start off the year on the right foot with this agreement in place so that Robbie can get back with his teammates and focus on making the most out of the upcoming season.”

The 49ers and Gould agreed to a fully guaranteed contract worth $10.5 million over two years but with an option clause, it could become a four-year, $19 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who first reported the agreement.

The two sides have seemingly been at odds since the 49ers restricted Gould’s ability to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason with the application of the franchise tag -- a deal that was set to pay him $4.971 million for one year. Gould requested a trade, but coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch both declared that the 49ers would not trade him because of his importance to the team.

[RELATED: Biggest questions facing NFC West teams]

Gould, a 14-year NFL veteran made 72 of 75 field-goal attempts in his first two seasons with the 49ers after signing a two-year, $4 million contract on the first day of free agency in 2017. Gould ranks No. 2 all-time in the NFL in field-goal accuracy at 87.7 percent behind only Baltimore’s Justin Tucker.

With Gould now set to report to training camp in Santa Clara on July 26, the only players under 49ers control who remain unsigned are defensive end Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, the team’s top two draft picks.

NFL preview 2019: 49ers' three most important players for next season

NFL preview 2019: 49ers' three most important players for next season

After combining to win a total of 10 games the last two seasons, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch enter a crucial third year steering the ship in Santa Clara. 

The 49ers recently have been closer to the No. 1 overall pick in the draft than the playoffs. It's time for that to change. But it won't be easy. 

Rising up the ranks in the NFC West is a tough task. The Los Angeles Rams were an ugly Jared Goff game away from winning the Super Bowl last year, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are always competitive, and the Arizona Cardinals should be exciting with Kyler Murray and a healthy David Johnson. 

In order for the 49ers to have a successful 2019 season, these three players will have to perform on the field. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB

Thanks, Captain Obvious. 

Everything starts with Garoppolo. The 49ers go as he goes. It's simple as that. 

Garoppolo says he's "good to go" for training camp, which begins July 27th, after tearing his ACL in the third game of the season last year. Through nine games with the 49ers -- eight starts -- Garoppolo has gone 6-2 as a starter while throwing 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has thrown for 2,278 yards in red and gold, and has completed 64.8 percent of his passes. 

To contend for the playoffs, Garoppolo will have step up his game and prove he's worth his $137.5 million contract this season.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB

This easily could have been Richard Sherman. The 49ers badly need their secondary to improve this season after snatching only two interceptions. In his first season as a 49er, Sherman failed to have an interception for the first time in his career. He also was coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon. 

“I’m much healthier. I was kind of out there on one leg," Sherman told the Sacramento Bee in May. 

Sherman should have a better year after going through an offseason where he didn't have to focus on rehabbing his Achilles. He's expected to still be the team's top cornerback, but as he ages, the No. 2 cornerback is just as important. 

There's still plenty of competition for who will line up opposite of Sherman. It's Witherspoon's job to lose, though, and he looked like the 49ers' best player on defense at times during the offseason program. 

Witherspoon, standing 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, has the same kind of long build at cornerback as Sherman. He suffered a PCL injury last year and missed the final two games, but proved he's healthy during the offseason.

This could be a make-or-break year for the 24-year-old. If he proves the offseason program wasn't a fluke, Witherspoon might turn into one of the best surprises in the NFC West this season.

Fred Warner, MLB

Warner was one of the better draft picks in all of football last season. Selected in the third round by the 49ers, Warner started all 16 games and recorded 124 tackles as a rookie.

This year, it's time for him to captain Robert Saleh's defense. 

In just his second professional season, Warner is expected to man the middle with Kwon Alexander and Malcolm Smith playing on the outside. That could be an extremely athletic group of linebackers, but Alexander is coming off a torn ACL and Smith constantly has been injured the last two years. 

[RELATED: Which 49ers are underrated, overrated in 'Madden NFL 20'?]

The 49ers are expecting big things out of Warner in his sophomore season, and reasonably so. Seen as a natural leader, Warner can't have a slump this season.

With a dominant defensive line in front of him, Warner must keep it going and turn the team's linebackers into a force to be reckoned with.