SANTA CLARA -- John Lynch’s office is on the second floor of the 49ers’ team offices with glass doors that lead to large balcony that overlooks the practice fields.
Lynch oversees the entire 49ers football operation from this vantage point.
On Wednesday, he spoke on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” about the significance of the items he has placed on the walls and shelves of his office.
From his desk, looking straight across to the room, is a photo of his four children, taken at Levi’s Stadium on the family’s first trip to Santa Clara after he was named general manager.
The family remained in San Diego during a busy offseason that included finalizing a 53-man roster that includes 31 players acquired since he took charge of the team's player personnel.
“You always want to be with your family,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot to be done, so when they’re not here, I just work.”
His son, Jake, was going to transfer to the Bay Area for his senior year of high school. Instead, he will remain at Cathedral Catholic, where he plays linebacker on a team that went 15-0 last season and won the Division I-AA California state championship.
“His guys had an intervention with him down there,” Lynch said. “One guy took him out, and the next thing you know, the whole team was there, saying, ‘You can’t leave.’ He decided to stay down for the first semester.”
It should be noted that Lynch’s 9-year-old daughter, Leah, warmed quickly to the idea of her father working for the 49ers. She is wearing a red 49ers T-shirt in the picture. She was the biggest critic of her father’s move to join a team that went 2-14 last season.
Said Lynch, “I think her thing was, ‘How’s this a good thing, Dad? The 49ers are horrible.’ With kids, you’re going to get the real deal.”
On a shelf behind Lynch’s desk is a football he acquired at an auction during Winter Fest, a fundraiser for the 49ers Foundation. Dwight Clark personally drew the X’s and O’s of “sprint right option” – the play on which he made “The Catch.”
“Dwight Clark’s fight with ALS is close to everyone because of what Dwight stands for, but close to me because I lost my mother in law a couple of years ago to ALS, so we’ve been involved in that fight,” Lynch said.
“First off, it’s really cool. It’s a diagram of 'The Catch' and signed by Dwight on a ball. But (the proceeds) also went to Dwight’s cause and his fight.”
Next to the football is a photo of Lynch and Ronnie Lott, then with the New York Jets, after a preseason game in 1995. Lynch was entering his second NFL season and his first as a starter. Lynch still remembers what Lott told him that night.
“I’d just become a starter,” Lynch said. “(Lott) said, ‘I watched some of your film from the end of last year. … You’re going to play at a high level in this league. You’re going to be a star.’ Hearing that from Ronnie Lott gave me everything I needed to be excited.”
Another item of particular significance is a small bronze plaque that his father gave him. It reads: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”
CEO Jed York hired coach Kyle Shanahan and Lynch as a team, and awarded them with six-year contracts to figure things out and work together over the long term. The 49ers have been torn apart in recent years by the inability of general manager Trent Baalke and the head coaches to work together. Lynch said he believes the relationship with Shanahan will remain secure in good times and bad.
“I’ve got no doubt that it will just because the foundation is so strong,” Lynch said. “And the other thing we genuinely like being around each other. I kind of dig what I learn from him about football. I think he feels the same way. We’ve got similar philosophies on success and just how you deal with things.
“At the same time, we aren’t exactly identical and we challenge each other. And we’re not afraid to challenge each other. That’s a good thing. It’s worked really well. We haven’t played a game, yet, though. We understand that. We’re looking very much forward to kicking it off against Carolina this Sunday, though.”