John Lynch was a leader on the field during his 15-year NFL career.
And 49ers CEO Jed York -- as well as presumptive head coach Kyle Shanahan -- are hoping he can exhibit the same characteristics as an NFL general manager.
The 49ers on Sunday night announced Lynch, 45, was hired as the team's general manager, replacing Trent Baalke, whose firing was announced at the conclusion of a 2-14 season. Lynch's appointment was a surprise, as the 49ers had publicly narrowed their choices to Minnesota assistant general manager George Paton and Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough.
Shanahan, the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, was involved in the hiring process. Shanahan on Sunday traveled with his team to Houston, site of Super Bowl 51, where the Falcons will face the New England Patriots on Sunday. The 49ers are expected to finalize the hiring of Shanahan after the game.
"During his 15 seasons as an NFL player, John epitomized what is so special about the game of football,” York said Monday in a statement. “A world-class competitor, his love and respect for the sport are unmatched, and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in league circles who does not have great respect for his work ethic and passion. Having already helped lead a team to a Super Bowl title as a player, John is equipped with tremendous insight into what it takes to create a culture that breeds sustained success.
"Having spent the last eight seasons as an analyst with FOX, he has honed his skills as a talented communicator while also developing valuable relationships around the league and a vast knowledge of the NFL that will be beneficial to our team. As we learned more and more about John, it became apparent that he was not only one of the best to ever play this game but also a Hall of Fame caliber man, one who people are compelled to follow.”
Lynch, who was selected to nine Pro Bowls during his career with Tampa Bay and Denver, is one of 15 modern-day finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will be announced Saturday in Houston. He was a captain on the Buccaneers' Super Bowl XXXVII championship team, a 48-21 winner of the the Raiders in January 2003.
Lynch spent the past eight seasons as an NFL television analyst on FOX broadcasts. On Jan. 14, he called the Falcons' victory over the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC divisional round and spoke highly of Shanahan, the coach with whom he will be matched.
After playing 11 seasons with the Buccaneers, Lynch finished his career with four seasons on Mike Shanahan's Denver Broncos. Lynch entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick in 1993 from Stanford.