NBC Sports’ Patrick Daugherty said the Niners swung for the fences with Lance after their “safe” bet failed
There were some hard truths in Daugherty’s blurb, along with some commentary that felt a bit over the top that we’ll get into. His article was written without acknowledging Fred Warner’s contract extension. I would have liked to know how some of the national media members feel about Warner’s deal.
To me, he erases one of the most difficult parts of the football field to defend. Warner is a no-brainer blue-chip football player who is superb athletically but also wins with his mind. When you look at the way Warner’s contract is set up — Paraag Marathe kept Warner’s cap number under $4 million for 2021 — Lynch and the 49ers front office deserves kudos.
Here’s what Daugherty had to say about Lynch:
11. John Lynch, 49ers
As is the case with most hot-shot coaches, it can be hard to tell where Kyle Shanahan ends and his general manager begins. Handpicked by Shanahan, we know it’s not John Lynch making the final call on matters of receiving and quarterbacking. It might not even be Lynch on defense, where he was a Hall-of-Fame player.
It is Lynch’s job to accommodate his coach. He has done so as the duo has slapped together a championship-caliber defensive core. It is on Shanahan’s side of the ball where the front office has foundered, putting too many eggs in the Jimmy Garoppolo basket while failing to find enduring solutions in the backfield or receiver corps.
The Garoppolo matter has also been settled with Shanny’s biggest bet: FCS QB Trey Lance. Lance’s lone appearance since the end of the 2019 season was an Oct. 2020 exhibition against Central Arkansas. Whereas Garoppolo was a “safe” bet that failed, Lance is swinging for the fences. A front office partnership that has thus far gotten by on alibis and one 13-3 campaign is officially on the spot. If Lance fails, Shanahan and his personal chef general manager may no longer be allowed to pick the ingredients.
Everyone is aware that Shanahan handpicked Lynch and that he also has the final say on the team’s roster. Yet, the author paints the picture like Lynch has zero say and is a mouthpiece. It doesn’t have to be at the opposite end of the spectrum because Lynch doesn’t have as much “power” as Shanahan.
Anyway, there’s no doubt it’s the offensive side of the ball that hasn’t held up their end of the bargain, and that has to fall on Kid Shanahan. As Daugherty points out, you couldn’t script what felt like weekly injuries.
Playing with backups at the most vital positions in Shanahan’s offense — from center to quarterback — has ultimately what’s done the offense in.
Pointing fingers at Lynch/Shanahan for missing on their early-round picks during their first couple of years ignores some of the late-round gems that are current starters as well as the recent influx of talent that’s been drafted with the team’s early-round picks.
Many teams would take the trade-offs in hits and misses in both the draft and free agency. That aggressiveness and big picture mentality have netted the 49ers one of the strongest rosters in the NFL.
That’s before we know how good Trey Lance will be or how much he’ll make Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel more of a threat than they already are. Credit the front office for taking swings as they did with the Lance trade. They deserve just as much praise for admitting when certain draft picks, or free-agent signings didn’t work out.
As a fan, wouldn’t you rather root for a team with the Lynch/Shanahan mentality as opposed to an organization that sits on their hands and “hope things improve” year after year? I’ll take the former every time.
Jimmy G is still on the roster because Shanahan has evidence he can win games with him — a lot of football games. But, unfortunately, last year was the last straw as far as injuries go, which is why the team doesn’t have a first-round pick for the next two years.
Daugherty is fair to criticize the Niners if Lance doesn’t work out. He’s 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, has a rocket arm with good pocket presence, and so happens to run a 4.5 40-yard dash. These are the guys you bet on, but Jed York wouldn’t have much of a choice to move on from this regime if Lance doesn’t pan out.
What the author failed to mention is the talent around Lance. The 49ers are likely to field a top-7-ish offensive line, defense, and skill position group in the NFL, with Shanahan calling the plays. So I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Lance will be fine.
It’ll take Shana-Lynch consistency to land higher in these front office rankings. We know there is talent on the roster, and we’ve seen what happens when it’s healthy. String together consecutive winning seasons, and you’ll crack the top-10.