Hiring John Lynch as general manager was the best move the San Francisco 49ers could have made.
For the Seattle Seahawks.
It puts a completely inexperienced man in charge of the football operations, while it allows two other candidates for the job — Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer — to continue occupying their positions in the Seahawks front office.
Looks like win-win for the Seahawks … referring to the two games they’ll play each season against their formerly dreaded divisional foe.
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Seahawks fans would say that the running off of former coach Jim Harbaugh was nice of the Niners, but this seems another step toward keeping them insignificant.
And as you now examine the NFC West, the other three teams must admire Seattle’s status and stability with a grown-up head coach, an experienced general manager, and a quarterback in his prime. None of them have all three of those key components.
No knock on John Lynch, who is plenty smart as a Stanford grad, and a player of such experience (15 NFL seasons) and excellence (nine Pro Bowls) that he’s a Hall of Fame finalist.
But he’s been watching this game from the broadcast booth since his retirement in 2008.
Former players can do this job, but it takes some time. Ozzie Newsome spent a decade in the front office before being named general manager of the Ravens. And John Elway served as executive vice president for four seasons before becoming GM of the Broncos.
Since Harbaugh was shoved out, the Niners are 7-25, finished last in the division in back-to-back seasons, and are expected to name their third head coach — reportedly Kyle Shanahan, offensive coordinator of Atlanta.
The franchise is such a disaster that razing it and starting over seems a fair approach.
But to bring in somebody who is going to have to learn on the job seems like stacking the odds against themselves.
So, without any resume for franchise management, Lynch was handed a six-year contract.
Recent history of such moves has not been kind.
Former NFL linebacker Matt Millen climbed into the broadcast booth (1994-2000) following his playing career.
In 2001, he was recruited as general manager by Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford Sr. Accounts report their meeting went like this:
Millen: “Mr. Ford, I really appreciate this, but I’m not qualified.”
Ford: “You’re smart, you’ll figure it out.”
He did not. Through 2008, the Lions, under Millen’s stewardship, put together a 31-84 record. The Lions failed to win a single road game for three seasons (0-24), and capped Millen’s reign — he was fired three games into the season — with an 0-16 record in 2008.
Speculation holds that Lynch has a positive relationship with Shanahan, and the benefits of their inherent compatibility will offset their mutual inexperience at their new jobs.
There’s something to that, as ego battles in the front office can doom even good franchises.
It has to come as tough news to those lifers who have worked their way up through the ranks in scouting and personnel departments.
So, San Francisco remains a hot mess. Even if the Lynch/Shanahan cabal proves effective, it’s going to take time to get it sorted out.
In Los Angeles, meanwhile, the Rams hired on Jan. 12 first-time head coach Sean McVay at age 30. He had been the Redskins’ offensive coordinator for three seasons, and recently capable of signing for a full-sized rental car on the road.
There’s a lineage with McVay, though. His grandfather, John, formerly was the Niners’ GM, and worked in the front office while helping build up the franchise with Bill Walsh.
The Arizona Cardinals have established some continuity with coach and general manager, but questions remain whether key receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer will return or retire.
The Seahawks will have a few free-agency questions to resolve, and need to hit on some draft picks, but so far they’re winning the offseason merely by standing pat.
Dave Boling: 253-597-8440