How call with Kyle Shanahan put John Lynch on path to being 49ers GM

Marcus White
NBC Sports BayArea

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch's time as colleagues really began with a phone call in 2017.

Shanahan, the 49ers coach who was the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator at the time, had impressed Lynch, the 49ers general manager who then was an announcer for the "NFL on FOX," in the Falcons' 36-20 win over the Seattle Seahawks in the 2016 NFC Divisional Round. Lynch called to praise Shanahan and to say Shanahan was going to "have a great shot" at the 49ers' head-coaching vacancy. 

Little did Lynch know that Shanahan would plant an idea in his head. 

"I remember, kind of as we left the conversation, Kyle saying 'Yeah, the one thing I'm working through as I continue to coach [the Falcons] -- I can't find a GM I'd like to work with,'" Lynch recalled on NBC Sports' "The Peter King Podcast." "Something was gnawing at me. I couldn't go to sleep for about four days. I was supposed to kind of be on vacation because my season was over, and finally I woke up one morning and said, 'You know what's gnawing at me? It's what Kyle said.'"

Shanahan didn't need Lynch to dream within a dream, but the unintentional inception was successful. Lynch called Shanahan to ask if he'd consider bringing in the then-color commentator as GM. 

"I remember his words vividly: 'Why would you do that? You have a great job!'" Lynch told King. "And I told him all the reasons why I thought it'd be a good fit, and a half-hour later he's got (49ers CEO) Jed York on the phone and I'm flying up to talk about something that later became a reality. Pretty crazy looking back."

Lynch said working with Shanahan was a big draw, as he felt the 49ers coach was a "cut above" the rest of the league in terms of calling and designing offenses. But Lynch said he also felt a personal connection to the 49ers, given his playing history. 

At Stanford University, Lynch was recruited by and played for Dennis Green, who twice was a 49ers assistant. Legendary 49ers coach Bill Walsh took over for Green during Lynch's senior year, convincing him to eschew playing professional baseball and telling Lynch he could be a Pro Bowl safety. Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, two of Lynch's coaches with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers played and coached for the 49ers, respectively. 

"It was just kind of the standard-bearer of a first-class organization, and everyone knew it," Lynch told King. "I went to school at Stanford when they were winning all their championships. I said, 'What a cool opportunity.' "

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The 49ers lost a lot of games in Lynch and Shanahan's first two seasons at the helm. Twenty-two, in fact. 

But in their third year together, with an NFC West and conference crown in tow, the 49ers are a win away from lifting the franchise's sixth Vince Lombardi trophy. Whether or not the 49ers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV in Miami on Feb. 2, Lynch is glad he made that phone call three years ago. 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of "49ers Central" all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday).

How call with Kyle Shanahan put John Lynch on path to being 49ers GM originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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