Kwon Alexander

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 schedule predictions: Wins, losses projected for 2019 season

49ers schedule predictions: Wins, losses projected for 2019 season

It's officially prediction season. The 49ers' schedule for the 2019 regular season was released on Wednesday, and there are plenty of interesting matchups.

Entering Year 3 of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch at the helm, the 49ers look to build upon a disappointing 4-12 season. Will they be playoff contenders or find themselves at selecting at the top of the draft again?

With some solid additions in free agency, a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, we expect a promising season. 

VIEW 49ERS GAME-BY-GAME PREDICTIONS HERE

49ers schedule 2019: Biggest games, narratives to watch in NFL season

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49ers schedule 2019: Biggest games, narratives to watch in NFL season

Everything the 49ers do from this day forward is with opening day -- Sept. 8 – in mind.

The draft, the offseason program, training camp and a four-game exhibition schedule are all geared toward getting the 49ers prepared for Week 1 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In the meantime, the 49ers will have the ability to add a starter, or two or three, in next week’s NFL draft.

One of their NFC West opponents undoubtedly will be shaped by their decision next week. Will the 49ers again face quarterback Josh Rosen, who twice beat them last season, or will the Cardinals tab Kyler Murray to inject some excitement and intrigue into their organization? The 49ers play Arizona in Weeks 9 and 11.

Here are some of the other takeaways from the 49ers’ 2019 schedule, which the NFL released Wednesday.

Biggest must-watch game

Every eight years when the Browns visited the 49ers, it was seen as a good opportunity to spend the day doing something together outside as a family. The mere throught of a 49ers-Browns game could induce sleep.

Few organizations over the past couple of decades have been less compelling than the Cleveland football franchise.

But not this year.

Even though Cleveland has a no-name as a head coach, the Browns could be one of the compelling teams to watch in the NFL this season because of QB Baker Mayfield and a much-improved supporting cast, including star receiver Odell Beckham. The 49ers wanted Beckham, but the Browns landed him in a trade with the New York Giants.

The Browns will visit Levi’s Stadium for the first time this season, and -- believe it or not -- it could be a hot ticket. The NFL placed the 49ers-Browns game in prime time with an Oct. 7 matchup on Monday Night Football.

Where the schedule makers hosed them

The 49ers open the season with back-to-back road games for the first time since 1997. It might be an opportunity for the 49ers to remain on the road – say, Youngstown, Ohio – between games at Tampa Bay and Cincinnati.

This will likely be a decision for Ben Peterson, the 49ers’ newly created head of player health and performance. If he determines it is better for the players’ bodies to avoid the back-and-forth trips, the 49ers will practice during the week in Ohio.

The game against Tampa Bay is also a 4:25 p.m. start in the Eastern time zone, giving them three hours less of recovery time.

The 49ers have four road games scheduled for 10 a.m. (PT) kickoffs – at Cincinnati (Week 2), Washington (Week 7), Baltimore (Week 13) and New Orleans (Week 14). The back-to-back road games in December against the Ravens and Saints also makes for a tough stretch at that point in the season.

Additionally, the 49ers face the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium on Nov. 24. New coach Matt LaFleur will have extra time to prepare for the 49ers, as the Packers’ bye week is in Week 11.

Where the schedule makers helped them

The 49ers have a five-game stretch from Week 8 through Week 12 when the only time they will be on a plane will be for the two-hour trip to Arizona and back.

San Francisco hosts the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 27, followed by a quick-turnaround for a Thursday night game at Arizona on Halloween. Then, it’s a longer week and more preparation time to face the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 11 for Monday Night Football.

The 49ers face Arizona again in Week 11 on Nov. 17, and remain home for the Week 12 game against the Packers.

What the primetime schedule tells us

Every team in the league is guaranteed one primetime slot with a Thursday night game. The 49ers’ Thursday game is Week 9 at Arizona. They have two other games under the lights, facing the Browns and Seahawks in Monday night home games.

The 49ers have another possible primetime game, as the day for their Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Rams will be determined at a later date. The game is slated for either on a Saturday or Sunday.

That shows the 49ers have not fallen completely off the NFL landscape, but the NFL is being more cautious than a year ago.

After riding the momentum of Jimmy Garoppolo and a five-game win streak into last year’s offseason, the 49ers were tabbed for five games in prime time. By the mid-point of the season, the NFL was sent scrambling.

The 49ers were bounced out of their two scheduled Sunday night games – Week 7 against the L.A. Rams and Week 13 at the Seattle Seahawks.

Bye week significance

The bye week comes early for the 49ers, long before most teams generally would want a break in their season.

After opening on the road for the first two games and the home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3, the 49ers will get the week off in Week 4.

Then, the 49ers have a long week when they return from the bye week to face the Browns on Monday Night Football. The 49ers finish the regular season with games in 13 consecutive weeks.

[RELATED: 49ers' Buckner says it's still early for extension talk]

Revenge narratives

After the incident at the team hotel in Tampa, the 49ers did not need to know all the details about what occurred. All they had to know was linebacker Reuben Foster put himself in a precarious situation with his decision to meet a visitor, and he ended up in jail for the night.

Foster was quickly claimed by Washington. He spent the final five games of last season on the commissioner’s exempt list. But, now, he’s been cleared to play football, minus two game checks. The 49ers ultimately would like to see Foster succeed, but not in Week 7 on Oct. 20, when the club travels to Washington.

Foster certainly will be motivated to make the kind of impact against the 49ers that the club had envisioned him doing for them.

Also, newly signed 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander faces his former team, Tampa Bay, in Week 1. He is coming back from a torn ACL and hopes to be available to play. Former 49ers punter Bradley Pinion also is now with the Bucs.

New 49ers running back Tevin Coleman faces his old club, Atlanta, in Week 15 at Levi’s Stadium.