When the 49ers shocked the football world three years ago by hiring TV broadcaster John Lynch to pair with Kyle Shanahan, it was met with skepticism. The matching six-year deals for the general manager and head coach raised eyebrows higher.
Fast forward to Super Bowl LIV, and it appears both key figures in San Francisco's steady march toward Miami have outgrown those contracts.
Sources say that Lynch and Shanahan are in line for new deals at some point this offseason. If it all works out, and all parties hope it will, the duo could receive lucrative extensions before the start of the 2020 season in Septemeber.
Lynch, Shanahan and EVP of football operations Paraag Marathe form the triumvirate for the Niners, helping this team become not only set for the future but also be the model that other teams want to replicate; expect them to get rewarded for it. The way they work together is noteworthy, with 49ers owner Jed York saying on NFL Network this week: "I think it starts with culture."
Lynch recalled the night of his first interview with the Niners three years ago, having dinner at the York house, saying, "We just hung out and talked."
That's when Lynch presented 49ers brass with a detailed letter he had written to himself detailing his plan for how he would shape a team if he became a general manager. Though he hadn't entertained the notion of leaving the broadcast booth to jump into a front-office role for very long, Lynch's memo showed the team he had an innate knowledge of how to build a roster and run the football side of an organization.
For example, Lynch vowed he would always work to ensure his teams were stout up front on both sides of the ball. With the way this season's 49ers are playing defensively (nine sacks in two postseason games after 48 in the regular season), along with an offensive line that's paving the way for a dominant running game, Lynch's vision has come to fruition.
Lynch also wrote about his admiration for legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh. He noted how much it would mean to him to bring another championship back to the franchise that Walsh led to three titles. Now, Lynch's Niners have the chance to do that today.
A day later, the San Francisco brass flew to Atlanta to have a second interview with Shanahan -- where he met with all four GM candidates. That's where Lynch really distinguished himself. At one point, Marathe and York told all four GM candidates during the interview, We're going to step out of the room so you and Shanahan can talk. Do it just the two of you so you can get on the same page. Three of the candidates agreed; not Lynch. He explained why to NFL.com.
"I kinda spoke up there," Lynch said. "It was getting to where we were going to talk about who had the 53-man roster and all that stuff. Jed and Paraag understood the circumstances were different and we were just coming together and they said, 'Why don't we leave?' I said, 'Guys if this was going to work, we're all going to be working together. So why don't we all sit in here and talk about it together? We're all going to be working together.' So that's what we did. Kyle said that sounds good to me and we just talked about it. There was alignment on that."
The team gave all coaching and GM candidates personality tests, as well as other tests on how they would build. "Kyle's and mine were almost directly in sync," Lynch said. "I wanted a partner in this. And in the end, it all worked out."