They may not have a single quarterback under contract within a matter of weeks. Not one player on the roster received a single All-Pro vote, and they didn’t get any Pro Bowl selections either (a pretty low bar to clear).
The 49ers probably won’t have a winning season anytime soon. (Way to go out on a limb, Berman.)
Still, after years of arrogance mixed with awkwardness mixed with misdirection mixed with cluelessness mixed with weirdness, listening to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan today signaled a striking departure. There wasn’t a hint of defensiveness. They didn’t seem like they were either overwhelmed or disgusted by the whole media process. They actually looked and sounded like professionals who wouldn’t turn off potential assistant coaches, free agents, or draftees by their demeanor.
They were … normal.
There are only 32 NFL head coaches and 32 NFL general managers, so expecting non-abrasive people at this price shouldn’t be too much to ask (unless you’re Bill Belichick and you can get to seven Super Bowls and win five). But the 49ers have seemed like a team all too comfortable with discomfort, as if the media (and fans, by extension) weren’t smart enough to realize they were witnessing total genius.
No one ever expected pure transparency. They’re not going to tell us who they’ll draft or which quarterback(s) they’re targeting. But they should at least appear like (1) they have a plan, and (2) they can explain the logic that goes into each decision when the time is right. Lynch and Shanahan appear to be up to that challenge, at least at the earliest stage.
How they’ll divvy up the personnel duties is anyone’s guess. Shanahan will supposedly handle the 53-man roster, while Lynch will be in charge of the draft and the 90-man roster when the offseason workout program starts. That seems pretty unrealistic. Shanahan will handle the quarterback part of the equation, which will play a huge part in who they draft and when. One would have to imagine that Shanahan will control most of the offensive part of the roster from now on, since he’ll call plays — he won’t even have an offensive coordinator.
Jed losing power?
The only time Jed York seemed enthusiastic was when he made it clear with comments about riding with the mayor of San Francisco in a parade down Market Street that he holds a massive grudge against Santa Clara’s mayor and city council.
In fact, York appeared close to tears at times. Maybe he’s going through some medical issue with his eyes, or got some sad non-football news right before the press conference began. However, IF he is upset because he lost some power throughout this process, or because he misses the man he affectionately called Trader Trent, then the degree to which 49ers fans should feel euphoric about the new hires should correspond with York’s disappointment.
I’ve made it clear for months that Shanahan would’ve been my first choice. A more experienced general manager may have made the first part of the 49ers’ offseason look better on paper, but I don’t see the point in bashing them for bumbling their way into what could be a great coaching hire. It’s better than crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” and ending up with a coaching retread who’ll be replaced after another boring season or two (or a stooge like Jim Tomsula). Plus, it looks like the 49ers have added a couple established personnel people to assist Lynch as he learns how to apply his vision for winning football in the cutthroat world of the NFL.
Better Than Baalke
When anyone asks what I think of Lynch, I say some version of the line above.
There were no reasons to feel confident about a single decision this team made after firing Jim Harbaugh … until now. That doesn’t guarantee future success, and we can’t ignore the fact that several executives the 49ers targeted gave Jedraag a metaphorical Heisman pose.
Cleaning up the toxic waste spill in Santa Clara was never going to be easy. So, despite the clumsy way the new regime was put together, this should be an optimistic time — compared to when they trotted out Tomsula or Chip Kelly, anyway.
Two articulate, positive, connected NFL guys have six-year contracts, seem to want former 49ers to have an increased presence (not a huge deal, but the lack of that presence in Santa Clara over the past several years was awfully weird as well), and seem to have a vision for the team beyond letting Baalke accumulate as many assets as possible and hoping it works. As a result, the 49ers go into their first offseason in a while where anyone who’s paying close attention doesn’t expect them to vomit all over themselves. Progress!