The San Francisco 49ers are attempting to take a different path to turn around their crumbling franchise.
After announcing former 15-year NFL safety and FOX analyst John Lynch would become the next GM, CEO Jed York discussed the seemingly left-field candidate that will presumably pair with next coach Kyle Shanahan -- expected to get hired after the Super Bowl.
"Nothing is guaranteed," York told The MMQB's Peter King. "But so many opportunities are missed in the NFL because people don't want to do something different. We're okay with that, because I am confident in Kyle and John. John has watched John Elway, and how he's built a team in Denver. As easy as it is to say he hasn't built a team yet -- I get that -- I talk to Kyle, and he says John is the most prepared of all the TV [people] he meets in the production meetings before games. We understand we'll have to live with growing pains, but I'm willing to do that because I believe the upside with both of them is so great."
York mentioned the Elway comparison, yet the Broncos' GM did have some tangential front office experience as CEO of the Colorado Crush -- scoff at it if you will, but Elway himself has said that time with the Arena Football League helped prepare him for his future job with the Broncos. Lynch enters the job having never worked in a front office.
The easier comparison for most fans will be Matt Millen. The FOX analyst was given the keys to the Lions and immediately plowed Mr. Ford's truck into the Detroit river.
The Lions went 31-84 with Millen as President and GM, from 2001 until he was fired in September 2008. Millen himself told William Clay Ford Sr. at the time "I'm not qualified," for the position. In his NFL Films "A Football Life" biography, the former linebacker lamented not sticking with his gut and instead was influenced into making draft choices that turned into busts -- taking Mike Williams over DeMarcus Ware stuck out.
The most obvious difference that could help Lynch avoid repeating Millen's ill-fated jump from TV booth to front office: Kyle Shanahan.
The presumptive coach -- expected to get a similar six-year deal -- will provide stability that Millen (who shuffled through four head coaches) never earned. Presumably, the partnership between Lynch and Shanahan will give the coach a lot of power in terms of personnel moves and the 53-man roster.
Good Morning Football's Peter Schrager noted Monday morning that Lynch could keep an experienced personnel man as an aid. Two potential names: Tom Gamble (already in San Francisco) and Mark Dominik (who worked with Lynch in Tampa).
The other key for Lynch to not repeat Millen's flop: finding a quarterback. Neither Colin Kaepernick nor Blaine Gabbert is the answer. Finding the future under center will be job numero uno when the team heads full-steam into the offseason. The success or failure of that quest will ultimately determine Lynch's career trajectory.