No doubt about it, there is a new sheriff, or more accurately sheriffs, in town, as the San Francisco 49ers officially introduced general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan today. Partnership and culture are the words of the day, but when Lynch and Shanahan say it, they mean it.
Both men made it abundantly clear throughout today’s press conference that they will be working together and that they share the same vision for the future of the 49ers.
“We’re having a lot of fun putting this thing together,” said Lynch. “…Kyle and I are on the same page, and we’re going to put together and assemble a team…that will make you proud. We’re going to have players that will compete…We’re going to have a team that plays fast, we’re going to have a team that plays physical…and we’re going to have guys with great character.”
Shanahan agrees that a solid player doesn’t just mean solid on the field; it means off the field too.
“…[W]e’re going to do our best to get the best players in here possible and make sure to take care of the players who are here doing things right,” Shanahan said. “I always feel that when you have a good player, as long as he’s a great person and has great character, then you can never go wrong and those are the guys you’ve got to take care of. There’s a lot of good players, but it’s hard to find a good player and a great person. And when you’ve got both of those together, that’s what gives you a chance to win because there’s rough times in this league. There’s rough times in every year.”
I don’t think anyone can argue that this team needs an overhaul in every sense of the world, and that will start with Lynch and Shanahan.
“Change is needed,” said linebacker NaVorro Bowman. “…I’m excited about it. Starting from scratch. Everyone coming in brand new and understanding the only thing that matters is work.”
It’s clear that Lynch and Shanahan are excited to work together and that they have a good relationship, which is something that is not taken for granted.
“To have an opportunity when an owner gives you the opportunity to come in with a GM and make sure you both meet together before they do it, that’s what made this so special,” said Shanahan. “You don’t get that opportunity much in this business…I didn’t think it was something I could pass up.”
For his part, York did not feel that he could pass up hiring his new dynamic duo.
“I think they saw that we’re not where we should to be and we need to get better,” said York. “And I think that’s very clear. I think in talking to Kyle, he was very direct with what he wants to do with the team and how he wants to build this thing and get it right. He knows that he’s going to have the leeway to do that and he’s going to have the time to do that and we need to make sure that we commit to building something that we’re going to all be proud of when it’s all said and done.”
Shanahan also has a certain amount of nostalgia for the organization where his father, Mike Shanahan, worked several years as an assistant coach.
“I remember spending all my summers up in Rockland as a ball boy, had a little rollout bed in my dad’s room,” said Shanahan. “…I remember staying up every night playing ping pong with [former 49ers’ wide receiver] John Taylor, took me two years to beat him.”
In terms of the roster, there has been a lot of talk over who will control what. Lynch will be in charge of the 90-man, free agency and the draft, while Shanahan will have final say on the 53. However, both have veto power and will work together.
“In all of those, it’s also written that’s subject to approval of the other guy,” said Lynch. In other words, there won’t be fights over players. In theory.
The Niners have a lot of needs, but none is more up in the air, so to speak, than quarterback, and perhaps no player’s status is more a topic of discussion than that of Colin Kaepernick. Lynch confirmed that Kap reached out to him and that they are going to meet.
No matter who the quarterback is, Shanahan knows the kind of player he wants running his offense.
You’ve got to see what’s out there,” said Shanahan. “Everyone has different things and you rarely get the full package. If you find a guy who has the full package, then you do whatever it takes to get that guy and you don’t think twice about it. But, that’s easier said than done. There’s not many of those people on the planet. There’s lots of ways to be successful. Never can a quarterback do it by himself. So, it’s important that you have someone who can handle the pressure, who can do it week in and week out and also has the ability to do what you’re asking of them. But, it’s also going to take a very good cast around him.”
That goes for both sides of the ball. San Francisco hasn’t hired a defensive coordinator yet, but Lynch’s time as a player and Shanahan’s offensive experience will help shape the defense.
“Here’s what we know on defense – we want to be aggressive,” said Lynch. “…We don’t want to sit back. We want to attack. That’s what I know as a player. We want to be multiple. Kyle talks a lot about what gives him problems as an offensive coordinator…A lot of it is going to depend on the coordinator.”
Aside from partnership, a theme of today’s press conference was player accountability and changing the culture (there’s that word again). It’s been a long couple of years in Santa Clara, and in order for things to really change, they are going to need to really change.
“…[We have to set a certain standard here and that standard’s going to start with the coaching staff, the personnel department, what our expectations are and my expectations are is that everyone works their hardest and gives their best every single day,” said Shanahan. “But, it doesn’t truly become a standard until that’s the player’s standard and once we can get the players to own that to where we don’t have to always make sure that we’re telling people to do it, they’re actually holding each other accountable, that’s when you have something special…So, at the end of this year, I hope at the end of OTA’s, I hope at the end of training camp, however long it takes, we’ll keep working to do it. But, I hope we can develop a culture here where our players have an extremely high standard, an extremely high expectation that matches exactly what the three of us are talking about up here.”
Wide receiver Torrey Smith agrees that there is room for improvement.
“That’s something we need to do better as players,” Smith said. “Being more accountable towards each other, both on and off the field.”
Frankly, Shanahan and Lynch won the press conference. It’s a lot easier to win press conferences than games, but with these guys at the helm, I actually believe for the first time in a long time, that this team is headed for success. Let’s get to work. Go Niners!