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San Francisco 49ers name John Lynch general manager

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The San Francisco 49ers stunned the football world Sunday night by naming Hall of Fame finalist John Lynch as their new general manager following weeks of secret courtship.

Lynch's deal with the 49ers will be for six years -- the same contract length the 49ers are planning to give Kyle Shanahan when they officially make him their head coach, sources informed of the situation told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

"Having already helped lead a team to a Super Bowl title as a player, John is equipped with tremendous insight into what it takes to create a culture that breeds sustained success," 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement Monday. "Having spent the last eight seasons as an analyst with FOX, he has honed his skills as a talented communicator while also developing valuable relationships around the league and a vast knowledge of the NFL that will be beneficial to our team. As we learned more and more about John, it became apparent that he was not only one of the best to ever play this game but also a Hall of Fame caliber man, one who people are compelled to follow."

Speaking in response to critics about his lack of front-office experience, Lynch said he is "eager to earn their trust" during a conference call with reporters on Monday. "just can't tell you how humbled and excited I am for his unbelievable opportunity."

Fox Sports first reported Lynch's hiring.

The finalists were believed to be Vikings assistant George Paton and Terry McDonough, the Cardinals' vice president of player personnel. Rapoport said the 49ers identified Lynch as a candidate "weeks ago."

The 45-year-old, who last played in 2008, has never held a job in an NFL front office.

The move seems on par with the surprising decision the Broncos made in 2011 to make John Elway their general manager, although Elway did spend a few years in charge of an Arena Football League team before taking the job. Lynch has been an analyst for Fox Sports since 2008.

One advantage Lynch would seem to have? As part of his job with Fox he is able to travel every week and spend his days in meetings with team personnel, executives and coaches as part of his broadcasting responsibilities. This would theoretically give him a complete picture of how some of the league's more successful operations work.

That doesn't mean the job will come without hurdles.

Former Lions president and CEO Matt Millen made a similar transition after years in the television game, but he never saw his team win more than seven games in a season during his stint from 2001-08. He was dismissed in 2008 amid the only 0-16 season in NFL history.

The 49ers obviously hope their fortunes are different. Lynch made nine Pro Bowls and received two first-team All-Pro nods during his time in the NFL. He won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  and was named the Bart Starr and "Whizzer" White Man of the Year award winner back in 2006. He is in both the Broncos' and Buccaneers' ring of honor.

Lynch played for Mike Shanahan between 2004 and 2007 while with the Broncos. Shanahan's son, Kyle, is expected to be named the next head coach of the 49ers following the Super Bowl.

With general manager roles taking on so many forms of late, it would not be surprising to see Lynch stock the cupboard with more experienced personnel men and women, as well as some long-time scouts. Still, the move is shocking for many reasons. Does it put Kyle Shanahan in the best possible position to succeed? At least in the initial days and weeks after the official announcement, Lynch's presence in the Bay Area will present more questions than answers.

The fact that San Francisco kept this a secret for so long might have been the most surprising aspect of Lynch's hiring. The amount of homework that went into vetting Lynch and interviewing him had to be staggering, especially given the dire personnel situation the team finds itself in. The 49ers fired former general manager Trent Baalke back on Jan. 2 alongside head coach Chip Kelly.

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