Here are 10 facts to know about the 49ers new general manager, who figures to partner up with future coach Kyle Shanahan in a week once that projected deal can become official:
1. Lynch was such an exceptional, hard-hitting safety that he is a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist for the third consecutive year, and this year’s class will be unveiled Saturday. He played 15 seasons, the first 11 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the final four with the Denver Broncos, though he made a 2008 exhibition-season cameo with the New England Patriots.
2. Lynch’s NFL career saw him start 10 games his first three seasons combined. He considered returning to baseball until 49ers icon Ronnie Lott intervened one offseason. “He said I’ve got not only what it takes to be on the field, but I have a chance to be one of the best safeties in the game. That kind of changed my tune,” Lynch told this newspaper before winning Super Bowl XXXVII with the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Raiders.
3. How tough was he? He ranked No. 10 on a NFL Films’ production of “Top 10 Most Feared Tacklers,” company he shared with the likes of Dick Butkus and Lawrence Taylor. Lynch’s history of hard hits hasn’t taken a toll on him physically, though he did experience nerve stingers in his neck in his final season with Tampa Bay in 2003.
4. Lynch closed out his Stanford career in 1992 under former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, who was starting his second stint with the Cardinal. “He tells me, not only can I help the Stanford team, but I can play in the NFL at Pro Bowl level at safety,” Lynch recalled to the Tampa Bay Times in 2008. “I was trying to be as respectful as possible, but I said, ‘What makes you think that? I’ve started three games in college.’ ” Lynch played quarterback his first two years in 1989-90, completing 17 of 39 passes for 229 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions; he had 29 carries for 53 yards.
5. Lynch showcased his two-sport talents not only at Torrey Pines High-San Diego and Stanford, but also on the professional level. He had a 7.88 ERA in eight innings as a junior at Stanford before the expansion Florida Marlins drafted him with their second pick in 1992. Two weeks later, he threw the first pitch in Marlins history, doing so for the Erie Sailors of the Gulf Coast League.
6. Lynch hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat as a Stanford freshman in 1990, the only hit of his season. He batted .244 in his Cardinal career, where he was more reknown for his fastball on the mound. “John was a power guy. He had great arm strength but wasn’t polished, ” Stanford coach Mark Marquess told this newspaper in 2003. “John always had a football mentality in baseball. He didn’t play too much in baseball, but the Marlins saw potential in him as a pitcher.”
7. Lynch joined Fox as a full-time game analyst in 2009 after a two-game audition in 2008. He and broadcast partner Kevin Burkhardt worked only one 49ers game this season, a 37-18 loss at Seattle on Sept. 25. But they also worked the Falcons’ playoff-opening win over the Seattle Seahawks, during which Lynch said of Kyle Shanahan: “I’d be hiring that guy in a second.”
8. Both the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers enshrined him in their respective “Ring of Honor” this season. That occurred during a 10-day span in which Lynch also broadcast a game in London. He wore No. 47 for both franchises but neither has retired his number.
9. Pro Bowl invitations came his way nine of his final 11 seasons, and he earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 1999 and 2000. He was a finalist for the 2002 and 2003 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, and he won the NFL Players Association’s Byron “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year Award his final year, in 2007.
10. Lynch was born Sept. 25, 1971 in Hinsdale, Illinois. He lives in San Diego with his wife, Linda, and their four children. His father, John Lynch Sr., was a 13th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969, and he suffered a career-ending knee injury as a rookie linebacker.
49ers surprise the NFL world and hire John Lynch to be their GM
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco 49ers have hired former NFL safety and Fox broadcaster John Lynch to be their general manager.
After a lengthy search that included interviews with nine other publicly identified candidates, team CEO Jed York settled on a mystery candidate when he gave the job to Lynch on Sunday. ESPN first reported the deal, saying Lynch had gotten a six-year contract.
After playing for former Niners coach Bill Walsh in college at Stanford, Lynch went on to have a stellar 15-year career with Tampa Bay and Denver that included three All-Pro selections and one Super Bowl title with the Buccaneers. He's a finalist this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Since retiring in 2008, Lynch has been an analyst at Fox.
49ers announce John Lynch as General Manager
The 49ers’ General Manager search came to a surprising end on Sunday night when the team hired John Lynch after no indication that the Hall of Fame finalist and FOX broadcaster was a candidate for the job.
The team confirmed the hiring after the reports of their choice emerged during the Pro Bowl. 49ers CEO Jed York told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that the team was impressed by Lynch’s “leadership and communication skills” and liked that he played for Bill Walsh in college. York also said he believes Lynch can build a “great staff,” which will be important given his lack of experience as a personnel executive.
That lack of experience didn’t stop Lynch from reportedly getting a six-year contract with the team. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Kyle Shanahan is expected to get the same term as head coach and that Lynch took his first step toward the job by reaching out to Shanahan recently to let him know he was interested in making the move to the front office.
Lynch, who played for Kyle’s father Mike Shanahan in Denver, met with York on Thursday, so the decision to make a long-term commitment appears to have materialized quickly for the 49ers.