Bob Myers watches the 49ers through the lens of a long-time Bay Area sports fan while also holding a deep appreciation for what it took from John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan to get to this point.
The 49ers won the NFC West title and earned homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with a 13-3 record. This season came after the organization totaled just 10 victories in the first two seasons of Lynch and Shanahan running the show.
Myers, the Warriors general manager and two-time NBA Executive of the Year, said on The 49ers Insider Podcast it does not get much better than what they are experiencing during this turn-around season.
“Right now, I bet they’re enjoying their wins and I bet they’re enjoying this season,” Myers said. “And I don’t want to stamp on it a little bit, but it may be the most fun they ever have, the climb up.”
Myers recalls when the Warriors first made the playoffs in 2013, for only the second time in 19 years. Those within the organization celebrated as if they had won the championship.
“We can’t go back to that,” Myers said. “You can’t go back there and relive that because you only get to do that once. You only get to climb up once for the first time, so I hope they’re enjoying it. I know it’s hard. But, otherwise, what are we doing this for, if you can’t enjoy those moments?”
After earning a first-round bye, the 49ers play host to the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday in an NFC divisional-round game at Levi’s Stadium. The winning team advances to the NFC Championship Game the following week.
Myers' parents were long-time 49ers season-ticket holders, so he has always followed the team closely. He has gotten to know Lynch over the past three years, as they share the common bond of feeling personally responsible for the product that takes the court or the playing field.
After two seasons in which Lynch’s job performances were second-guessed and scrutinized, he now is a strong candidate for NFL Executive of the Year.
“Coaches and the coaching staff have such a great bond together,” Myers said. “The players have each other. In this position, I do have my staff, which is great, but also you feel this responsibility, right or wrong, or success or failure, when things don’t go well. That’s a burden that only by sitting in the job you can actually feel.”
Lynch and Shanahan lost their first nine games together in 2017 before celebrating wildly in the locker room at Levi’s Stadium after a mid-November victory over the New York Giants. Shanahan hand-picked Lynch to serve as the team’s general manager, and there never has been a hint of issues between the two men.
After the 2019 draft, one report surfaced of discord between Shanahan and Lynch, but those close to the situation scoff at the suggestion there ever was any kind of serious tension. In fact, Lynch does not travel to scout college players during the season because Shanahan likes the support Lynch offers him by remaining at the 49ers’ offices during the week.
“That’s what gives you a lot of confidence if you’re a 49ers fan, that they weathered the storm,” Myers said. “It’s always better to get hit with adversity early and work toward success. Their connectivity, their trust in each other, they’ve weathered criticism. I’m sure they’ve heard themselves criticized. They’ve heard their organization criticized. They’ve heard their decisions criticized. And they didn’t break within all of that. Most people do.
“To be able to maneuver and navigate through that in a real genuine way, and come out clean, good for them. Most of the time, you don’t make it through those tough seasons. Most of the time, that challenge is too overwhelming.”
The compatibility of Myers and Warriors coach Steve Kerr might be as important to the Dubs as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Likewise, the 49ers’ cohesive tandem of Lynch and Shanahan carries over to the on-field production of Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle.
“It’s not fun if you’re just by yourself in this whole thing,” Myers said. “We’ve won. We’ve been lucky enough to win. And I know what it’s like. We’ve been lucky enough to win three times. The winning itself is not ... it’s how you do it. It’s what the journey was, it’s who you do it with. That’s what makes it unique and special.
"And that’s what you build towards.”