John Lynch had quite a weekend.
Working from Niners Mission Control -- seriously, he had about as many monitors and phones as NASA -- Lynch navigated a draft in which his team had two first-round picks, while also acquiring Trent Williams on Day 3 and sending Marquise Goodwin to Philadelphia after he selected his replacement on Day 1. During that same frenzy, Lynch was also forced to say goodbye to the longest tenured 49er of the last two decades.
Joe Staley announced his retirement during the draft, shortly after Lynch swung a deal to bring the seven-time Pro Bowler Williams to the Bay Area. The general manager dove into how the pair of events transpired during a Tuesday appearance on NFL NOW.
"We got a surprise a little bit before the draft -- not a surprise, because he kept us in touch," Lynch explained. "Joe Staley, we knew there was an opportunity or a chance that he wasn't going to be with us and that was going to be tough, but we were able to pull something off for Trent Williams, which I think was the cherry on top of this draft. I believe we have a chance to be a better football team this year, and that's very exciting for all of us."
Williams had long been unhappy with his situation in Washington, and after the Vikings selected a tackle in the second round of the 2020 draft, the likelihood of a move to Minnesota disappeared. That opened the door for Lynch to strike, which happened to coincide with Staley coming to a decision on his future.
"The reality on that deal, we didn't really have the conversation with Joe until the week of the draft," Lynch said. "Because I think Joe was trying to give himself and his body time. Joe wanted to keep playing, his body simply didn't allow for it. We felt like the quarantine, everything going on was his best friend and our best friend. Just give him time as he gets away from the season, maybe his body comes around.
"Finally, draft week, Joe picked up the phone and said 'guys, I can't do this, I've got to make a decision for my family.' So that gave us, it was very opportune that Trent Williams was sitting out there. We quickly interjected ourself in that conversation. I worked hard with Ron Rivera to try to get it done and we did as an organization, and fortunately we were able to do it.
"We'll miss Joe. Joe's been a huge part of this franchise. But to come up with a guy like Trent Williams at that late date was a godsend for us."
San Francisco might have gotten better at left tackle if Williams is still the player he was when he last took the field in 2018. That's the great unknown in this deal, but for third- and fifth-round picks, it's not much of a risk. And it's not often you can immediately replace a franchise great with a seven-time Pro Bowler.
The rich get richer. They are named after the gold rush, after all.