Matt Millen

Lynch consults with Millen about where things went wrong in Detroit

Lynch consults with Millen about where things went wrong in Detroit

The critics of the 49ers’ decision to hire John Lynch as general manager point to one failed instance of a player-turned-broadcaster becoming the top personnel executive.

The Detroit Lions compiled a 31-81 record in Matt Millen’s seven seasons as general manager until he was fired after the 2007 season. The following season with a roster that was left in disarray from Millen’s time with the organization, the Lions went 0-16.

Appearing Tuesday morning on 95.7 The Game, Lynch said he recently spoke to Millen about his experience.

“Matt Millen and I had a great conversation the other day,” Lynch said. “I found it was very interesting to talk to him. He shared with me some of the things that he would’ve done differently. I think you can learn a little bit from everything and everyone, but ultimately you go to put your head down and go to work.

“We’ve put together a really, really quality team that I’m excited about. We’re in full stride and working every day to knock down things on our list. It’s a big list, and we’re ambitious on how aggressive we want to attack that. But it’s going very well.”

Lynch hired Martin Mayhew as a senior personnel executive to serve as one of his top lieutenants. Mayhew became Lions general manager after Millen was fired. In Mayhew’s eight seasons, Detroit posted a 47-81 record.

The 49ers were also able to hire Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos to take on the role as vice president of player personnel. Broncos general manager John Elway, another of Lynch’s invaluable resources, allowed Peters to get out of his contract to take on a larger role with the 49ers.

“John Elway was a guy I bounced things off,” Lynch said. “He’s been there. He’s a good friend. I watched him kind of go through this in his own way. He is someone I’ve consulted with. You learn at a certain point that stops, because all of a sudden we’re competing with each other.”

Lynch also mentioned Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy as a person with whom he has spoken during his transition from the broadcast booth, where he spent the previous eight years, to an NFL executive role.

Matt Millen offers new 49ers GM John Lynch two pieces of advice

Matt Millen offers new 49ers GM John Lynch two pieces of advice

Matt Millen left the TV booth to become the general manager of the Lions. 

It did not turn out well for him.

John Lynch left his post as a TV analyst to become the 49ers' GM.

[MAIOCCO: Cris Carter compares 49ers' hiring of Lynch to Detroit's failure with Millen]

On Tuesday, Millen offered his advice to Lynch.

"Learn as much as you can, that's the first thing," Millen told Greg Papa on 95.7 The Game. "Make your own mistakes, that's the second thing. One of the things that I did not do well -- I would watch the film, I would do my homework and I'd have my opinion and then I'd say, 'OK, I like this guy better than this guy,' -- and then we would get into a meeting room and there were guys who did this for a living ... and I kind of let them have more say than myself.

"As I said -- you make your own mistakes. I should have kind of relied on my own instincts, and he (Lynch) should too."

The Lions went 31-81 in Millen’s seven seasons as general manager until he was fired after the 2007 season. The Lions went 0-16 in 2008.

Millen also shed light on the politics that go on behind the scenes -- the variables that have nothing to do with what goes on between the lines.

[RELATED: Brent Jones takes jabs at Baalke, issues optimistic message to 49ers fans]

"Football is easy. You've been studying it your whole life," Millen explained. "It's not like it's an easy game, but you understand it. You understand what you're asking a player to do, you can see if the guy can do it, you can see if they fit, all that kind of stuff.

"The hardest part is managing people. In the end, it's always a people game. Always. You're managing people, you're trying to read people, you're trying to decipher the agendas, you're trying to decipher politics, you're trying to see which one who says he's on your side but isn't on your side ... there's all kinds of crap.

"And I'm not a political guy. You ask me a question, I'll give you the answer. There's people who don't do that. And that's the part -- you gotta learn the building. You gotta learn where all the booby traps are. You gotta learn who's on your side.

"And he'll (Lynch) do that. It just takes time. That's why it's tough for him to walk into a building that he's not familiar with ... John will be diligent; he'll be meticulous. He's a bright guy ... he's gonna need somebody that he can trust. Those are hard to find. Hopefully he gets that."

Cris Carter compares 49ers' hiring of Lynch to Detroit's failure with Millen

Cris Carter compares 49ers' hiring of Lynch to Detroit's failure with Millen

HOUSTON -- Cris Carter, a former NFL on FOX colleague of new 49ers general manager John Lynch, has seen this whole scene play out in the past.

And it does not have a great ending, he said.

The 49ers on Sunday night made the surprising hire of Lynch as general manager after he spent 15 seasons in the NFL as a nine-time Pro Bowl safety and the past eight years in the broadcast booth.

Count Carter among the skeptics that such a move can be successful.

“Matt Millen was seven seasons in Detroit, all right?” Carter told CSNBayArea.com on Tuesday. “That’s the model we’re going off of. Matt Millen was doing TV, was great on TV, was the No. 1 announcer besides John Madden. And he decides to take over the Detroit Lions.

“He spent seven seasons there. They never had a winning season. And they also went 0-16. So that is the John Lynch model. OK? So you can try to make up all kind of stuff. They’ve looked at film. This is unprecedented.”

The Lions went 31-81 in Millen’s seven seasons as general manager until he was fired after the 2007 season. Left with Millen’s abysmal roster, the Lions went 0-16 in 2008.

Carter said Lynch’s ability to work together with presumptive coach Kyle Shanahan is the least of the organization’s concerns. Lynch wasted no time in making a move to add a top lieutenant -- former New England and Denver scout Adam Peters, who was named vice president of player personnel.

“John’s a worker,” Carter said. “John will mesh. John can get along with anyone who’s a worker. He’s going to lay the hammer down. He’s going to put a great support system around him. But, I mean, this has been done a couple times. And a couple times it’s failed.”

As a new member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in February 2013, Carter recalled watching the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII against the Baltimore Ravens. He reflected on how quickly the 49ers have fallen with a roster that turned to dust under the leadership of general manager Trent Baalke.

Baalke and coach Chip Kelly were fired after the 49ers went 2-14, including a franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.

“That team and that organization, from February 2013 – just four years ago -- they are a million miles away from that spot right there,” Carter said.

“So, you ask me, did they get back closer to that spot? I know they tell you in the media, ‘I don’t know’ is not an answer. But, man, in this situation, I don’t know."