John Lynch

NFC Notes: Witten, 49ers’ QB Trades, Kessler

Jason Witten made his return to the Cowboys after one year away from the club. As a former locker room leader of the franchise, integrating himself back into the fold could have been tricky, as new leaders have emerged in his absence. However, according to coach Jason Garrett, Witten has had no issues rejoining the team.

“Witt has been very mindful of that coming back,” Garrett said of Witten’s locker room role (via ESPN’s Ed Werder on Twitter). “He doesn’t want to be a guy the younger guys are constantly deferring to. He wants to integrate himself back into it, and he’s done that beautifully.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • It appears the 49ers will hang on to both Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard rather than trading one of the quarterbacks. “We haven’t had talks at all,” GM John Lynch said of the possibility of trades (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports’ Twitter feed).
  • Jimmy Ward was in full pads for the first time this week since he fractured his collarbone, Maiocco tweets. The 49ers gave him a one-year deal this past offseason.
  • Cody Kessler remains in the concussion protocol, per the EaglesTwitter feed. The franchise signed Josh McCown earlier today to add depth at the QB spot.
  • While the Texans may want picks if they are going to trade Jadeveon Clowney, Eliot Shorr-Parks of WIP (Twitter link) contends that the Eagles should offer Derek Barnett straight up for him. Barnett, who was a first-round pick back in 2017, has two years remaining on his deal.

NFC Notes: Packers, Clark, Lynch, Giants

The Packers made the surprising decision to cut Mike Daniels earlier today, and GM Brian Gutekunst confirmed that the club did try to trade Daniels first (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). It sounds as if Green Bay made some headway in trade talks, but the talks broke down over the last couple of weeks. Gutekunst also mentioned Daniels’ foot injury as a factor in the decision.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • The decision to cut Daniels has opened the door for the Packers to sign NT Kenny Clark to a lucrative extension, as Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Silverstein suggests (via Twitter) that such a deal could happen at the end of the season.
  • Matt Barrows of The Athletic suggests that, although John Lynch is the 49ers‘ GM, he is primarily in charge of the defense, while head coach Kyle Shanahan picks the offensive talent. And Lynch has missed on a few major decisions on the defensive side of the ball, so if that unit should struggle again, not only will defensive coordinator Robert Saleh be in danger of losing his job, but Lynch could be as well.
  • The Giants worked out free agent safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Tre Boston several days ago, but Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com does not believe Big Blue is going to pay for a starting-caliber safety at this point (Twitter link). He thinks the club was simply doing its due diligence.
  • The Panthers will give Daryl Williams some reps at left tackle and left guard in training camp, per GM Marty Hurney (via Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic on Twitter). Williams signed a one-year deal in March to remain with Carolina, but Hurney is said to prefer Taylor Moton at right tackle — where Williams has spent most of his time as a pro — and the club drafted LT Greg Little in the second round this year. So if Williams is to earn the big FA contract that he missed out on this year, he may have to do so at an unfamiliar spot.
  • The Buccaneers have placed Jason Pierre-Paul on the active/non-football injury list, as James Palmer of the NFL Network tweets. Although a player on the active/NFI list can be activated from that list at any time before the start of the season, that will almost certainly not happen with JPP, who is expected to miss at least a chunk of the regular season.

West Rumors: Raiders, 49ers, Ansah

Despite the Raiders parting ways with Reggie McKenzie late last year, his twin brother remained a scout through this draft. But Raleigh McKenzie will be one of the scouts sent home pre-draft that will not return. Raleigh McKenzie’s contract is up, and he confirmed to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal he will not be retained. The 56-year-old area scout in charge of the northeast had worked with the Raiders since Reggie McKenzie’s 2012 hire and said he viewed his exit as a “strong possibility” after his brother was let go, per Gehlken. Reggie McKenzie resurfaced in Miami. That would obviously be a logical landing spot for Raleigh.

Here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime exited their third draft together, and Matt Miller of Bleacher Report notes the 49ers‘ top two decision-makers may not be in lockstep. Shanahan would prefer to focus on developing players and scheming, but scouting and coaching sources told Miller the third-year HC has grown skeptical of Lynch’s decision-making on the personnel side. When asked about the report Tuesday, Shanahan (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area) called it “complete bulls***.” But if there is more to this situation, Miller writes it would likely be Shanahan staying in place and then looking for a new GM/personnel chief after the departures of Lynch and player personnel VP Adam Peters.
  • Ziggy Ansah visited a fourth team this week, with the suddenly edge rusher-needy Seahawks taking a look at the former Lions sack artist. But as could be expected, a signing will have to wait a week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link). Teams are not expected to sign the former Pro Bowl defensive end until after May 8, when free agents no longer count against the compensatory pick formula. Ansah joins the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Eric Berry, Michael Crabtree, Jamie Collins, Muhammad Wilkerson and other veterans in this boat. Next week figures to reignite free agency, to a degree, for teams looking to fill specific post-draft needs.
  • The Raiders have added so many new wide receivers they might not all make the team. Slotting Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, Ryan Grant and Dwayne Harris as locks to make the roster, along with Hunter Renfrow‘s probably spot, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area lists J.J. Nelson as a bubble player. A intriguing deep threat during Bruce Arians‘ run, the diminutive Nelson fell off the grid last season (seven receptions in 14 games). Harris is five years older than Nelson and has been mostly a return-only presence the past three years. He received a one-year, $1.6MM contract with $275K guaranteed; Nelson, 27, signed a one-year, $1MM deal with $75K guaranteed.

49ers Inquired About Tom Brady Trade

Before being given the green light on a seminal Jimmy Garoppolo trade, John Lynch discussed the Patriots’ other prominent quarterback with Bill Belichick. It was not a long conversation.

The then-first-year 49ers GM did not receive the answer he wanted regarding a Garoppolo deal when he spoke will Belichick early in the 2017 offseason, and he said he then asked if the Patriots would trade Tom Brady.

Yeah, we were calling about Jimmy and we did have that conversation and got quickly rebuffed,” Lynch said of the Brady trade inquiry during an appearance on Barstool Sports’ Pardon My Take podcast (via the San Francisco Chronicle). “I figured what the heck, you gotta take your shot right? You can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I had to summon up the courage. Bill laughed at me and basically hung up on me. But hey, I took my shot.”

Kyle Shanahan was told at the 2017 Combine Garoppolo wasn’t available, but at the trade deadline, he received a phone call from Belichick and quickly agreed to send the Patriots a second-rounder for the player who is now entrenched as the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Shanahan had Kirk Cousins on his radar prior to that move.

Brady enters his 19th season with the Patriots and is set to start Week 1 for a 17th straight season. This figures to be an amusing footnote associated with Lynch’s GM legacy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: John Lynch

John Lynch has had an enviable career in professional sports. He was selected in the first round of the 1992 Major League Baseball draft by the expansion Florida Marlins, and he threw the first pitch in Marlins’ organizational history as a member of one of the team’s minor league affiliates, the Erie Sailors. His Sailors jersey resides in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a result, but he was later selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Buccaneers, and he is probably pretty happy that he ultimately chose to pursue football.

Lynch spent the first 11 seasons of his NFL career with Tampa Bay, and during that time, he established himself as an elite safety. He became one of the most feared tacklers in the league, and he was heralded for his leadership both on and off the field. His playmaking statistics leave a little to be desired, as he tallied just 26 interceptions and 13 sacks in his 15-year career (although he did not become a full-time player until 1996, his fourth year in the league). That could be one of the reasons why he is still on the outside looking in at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his play went beyond raw stats. He was always someone that opposing offenses had to plan around, and his work earned him nine Pro Bowl bids and two First Team All-Pro selections. He was also a key figure in the Bucs’ only championship, helping the team capture Super Bowl XXXVII.

Tampa Bay released the two-sport Stanford athlete following the 2003 campaign, and he was snapped up by the Broncos. Despite switching from strong safety to free safety, Lynch maintained a high level of play with his new club, as he was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons in Mile High. He served as Denver’s defensive captain during the 2006-07 seasons, and on this day in 2007, he and the Broncos agreed to terms on a renegotiated contract that would keep him with the team for one more year.

He considered hanging up the cleats after the 2007 campaign, but Broncos owner Pat Bowlen convinced him to come back for one last hurrah. Even at age 36, though, Lynch expected to be on the field for every snap, and it became clear during the 2008 training camp that he would not be used in sub-packages. He ultimately left the team and was signed by the Patriots, though he never played a regular-season game for New England, which released him just a few weeks later.

Lynch formally announced his retirement in November 2008, and he subsequently enjoyed a successful stint as a color commentator for Fox. He was surprisingly named GM of the 49ers in January 2017, and while the jury is obviously still out on his tenure as an NFL executive, the early returns are promising.

Taking over a club in the midst of a full-scale rebuild, Lynch managed to acquire the team’s quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo last October in exchange for a second-round draft pick. This offseason, he (briefly) made Garoppolo the highest-paid player in NFL history, even though the East Illinois product has played a grand total of seven games in his professional career. Lynch’s fate with the 49ers will, of course, be tied to Garoppolo’s, but he has done as well as could be expected thus far. Indeed, San Francisco is being mentioned as a fringe playoff contender, no mean feat considering the roster that Lynch inherited. And while the playoffs may still be out of reach in 2018, one more good offseason of work could get the 49ers back to postseason play.

This date 11 years ago therefore marked the beginning of the end of Lynch’s on-field career, but his involvement with the league after retiring as a player has been pretty notable in its own right. He is a member of the Buccaneers’ Ring of Honor and the Broncos’ Ring of Hame, and he remains a viable candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And while it’s certainly too early to engage in these types of discussions, maybe he’ll one day get into Canton as an executive even if he doesn’t make it as a player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Cousins, Cowboys, Garoppolo, Cards

One of the top dominos to fall in free agency this offseason will be the future of Kirk Cousins. The Redskins have used both the transition tag and franchise tag on the signal-caller in the last two years, respectively, and their intentions this offseason remain unknown.

One option would be to again use a tag on Cousins and then trade him to another team, NBC Sports’ Rich Tandler writes. In theory, Tandler states, Cousins would agree to a deal with another team but would not sign an offer sheet. He would then be receive the transition tag from Washington, who would then trade him to the agreed upon team.

Tandler notes the pros to the deal would be an assurance to Cousins that Washington wouldn’t match an offer, the Redskins would receive compensation for his departure and the other team would get their franchise quarterback without signing him to a heavily front-loaded contract.

Of the teams who would potentially be interested in such a deal, the Browns, Broncos and Jets seem like the most obvious candidates to get something done.

It’s still early in the offseason, but the Cousins situation will be among the most interesting and pivotal of the offseason.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Cowboys wide receiver Ryan Switzer underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs from his left ankle, the team reported. Primarily deployed as a kickoff and punt returner in his rookie season, the North Carolina product is expected to assume a heavier workload on offense in his second season.
  • The Cardinals are looking to hire Titans defensive line coach Nick Eason for the same position, AZ Central’s Kent Somers hears (Twitter link). The position was previously held by Brentson Buckner for the last five seasons. Eason played 10 seasons in the NFL and has been with the Titans since 2014.
  • 49ers general manager John Lynch has stated often that he envisions Jimmy Garoppolo as the quarterback in San Francisco for the foreseeable future. Lynch confirmed this week that steps have been taken to ensure that happens, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch writes. The chances of Garoppolo playing somewhere other than the Bay Area in 2018 are slim to none. If a multi-year deal cannot be quickly reached, the team is sure to use the franchise tag on the signal-caller who has yet to lose as a starter in the NFL (7-0).

NFC Notes: 49ers, Eagles, Injuries

The 49ers have won every game that Jimmy Garoppolo has started this season. However, general manager John Lynch knows that the team’s priority this offseason must be to surround his new signal caller with better talent, reports Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

Smith relays quotes that the first-year decision maker made on FS1 today that expresses his decision to move forward with the plan of building around Garoppolo.

“It frees you up in the draft to go looking for other needs and build your team around him,” said Lynch.

At the moment, San Francisco seems to have found two solid play makers in Marquise Goodwin and rookie Trent Taylor. But with running back Carlos Hyde‘s future with the team uncertain being that he will become an unrestricted free agent, the team needs more guys that can help elevate Garoppolo’s game.

It’s certainly a team with a number of holes, but there’s undoubtedly newfound hope that the organization has found their next franchise quarterback given this late season run.

Here’s more notes from around the NFC:

  • While the Eagles have a number of assistant coaches that could be in-line for head coaching gigs after the conclusion of this season, the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas has gone a bit under-the-radar in terms of garnering interest from general manager needy teams, opines Jeff McLane of The Inquirer. Douglas surprisingly wasn’t mentioned in the league’s annual list of prospective GM candidates. But despite not being named, owner Jeffrey Lurie has spoken highly of the number two football man in his front office. “The hiring of Joe Douglas, I thought, was the pivotal moment of the last year,” said Lurie. With Douglas’ guidance, the Eagles have made a number of quality football decisions that has led them to being on the verge of clinching home field advantage in the NFC. McLane does mention that while Douglas is highly-regarded in league circles, he’s still viewed as strictly a “football guy”, which isn’t the type of person that is now needed to lead an entire front office, according to McLane. Nevertheless, if the Eagles continue to dominant with Douglas partially at the helm, he definitely should start to become more sought after for a lead job in the years to come.
  • Despite the Cowboys getting Zeke back for the first time since Week 8, the team is still dealing with a number of injuries entering their season-defining Week 16 game against Seattle. Star left tackle Tyron Smith is currently dealing with back and knee injuries, but he will “give it a try” this Sunday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Defensive tackle David Irving has been officially ruled out for a third straight game because of a concussion as well, reports David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Although, there is some good news on the injury front for the Cowboys as stud pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence practiced fully on Friday and is ready to go, per Todd Archer of ESPN.com.
  • The Seahawks are also dealing with a few critical injuries of their own prior to the Week 16 contest, even though the injury news seems to be a bit better on Seattle’s side. Head coach Pete Carroll said after practice that linebacker Bobby Wagner and strong safety Bradley McDougald are on track to play on Sunday, but the team would “wait-and-see” if cornerback DeShawn Shead would be activated from the PUP for this weekend’s matchup, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com.

NFC Notes: Reed, Redskins, Lions, 49ers

Just days after Terrelle Pryor was placed on season-ending injured reserve, the Redskins’ pass catchers received another blow on Wednesday. The team’s star tight end Jordan Reed was ruled out for the team’s Thanksgiving tilt with the Giants, according to Kimberly Martin of the Washington Post (Twitter link).

The oft-injured Reed, who was labeled as questionable by head coach Jay Gruden an hour before the announcement, will miss his sixth game of the year. Reed also missed four games in 2016 and two during his breakout 2015 season.

There are few better tight ends than Reed when he is on the field. Of the 11 players at his position to record 250 receptions since 2013, he is the only one to average at least five receptions per game. The team will once again turn to Vernon Davis in the division clash on Thursday night.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Though the 49ers will start C.J. Beathard again on Sunday, team general manager John Lynch is convinced Jimmy Garoppolo is going to be the team’s future starting quarterback writes Cam Inman of The Mercury News“We really, genuinely believe that this guy’s got the makings of a guy who could be our guy for years to come,” Lynch said. “That’s all got to come to fruition on the field.” 
  • Staying with San Francisco, Lynch also believes defensive end Arik Armstead has a bright future with the team despite missing 18 of 32 career games with an injury, according to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee“We think he’s a fit with what we are and who we are going forward,” Lynch said. Though he is a fit, Armstead will need to find a way to stay on the field to stay in the 49ers’ plans.
  • Matt Prater has been the Lions’ most valuable free agent signing in the last five seasons, writes ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. Though he has stiff competition from Golden Tate and Glover Quin, the veteran kicker is without a doubt in the mix for the honor.

Extra Points: 49ers, Kelly, Colts, Vikings

John Lynch acknowledged the 49ers‘ effort to add some picks for the 2018 picks may have had an ancillary motivation. The 49ers signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in free agency and used a third-round pick on Iowa’s C.J. Beathard. While the new San Francisco GM hopes Hoyer or Beathard can be the franchise quarterback he covets, he’s aware of the higher-profile passers expected to be part of next year’s talent pool and doesn’t sound averse to adding another passer in 2018. Josh Allen (Wyoming), Josh Rosen (UCLA) and Sam Darnold (USC) headline that group, with Louisville’s Lamar Jackson lurking as a wild-card threat with obvious top-flight athleticism.

I think we have been very up front that we understand that you have to have a big-time franchise quarterback to have success on a year-in-and-year-out basis. We want that and we are aware of that,” Lynch said during a radio interview with KNBR, via the San Francisco Chronicle. “We are hopeful that it’s one of the guys that we already have. There is a quality QB class coming. We just felt like the opportunity to get a lot of players this year that we really valued, plus be able to stockpile for next year as we are trying to rebuild this thing, we want to build this with a nucleus of players that really fit our mold.”

The 49ers acquired 2018 third- and seventh-round picks during draft weekend, the first in the Mitch Trubisky deal with the Bears, and traded a 2018 fourth-rounder to the Broncos for running back Kapri Bibbs.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • A player the Broncos selected hours after making that Bibbs trade, Chad Kelly remains in recovery from right wrist surgery. The former Ole Miss quarterback did not throw during Denver’s offseason program but is targeting a return to making passes in two weeks, the rookie said during an NFL Network appearance. This year’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” Kelly comes to Denver with a higher pedigree than most such seventh-round picks but will be behind Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch going into camp. This will likely be a developmental year for Kelly.
  • While the Broncos are set to hold a quarterback competition, the Vikings have a long-term dilemma at the position. None of the three ESPN.com reporters surveyed believe the Vikes should offer Sam Bradford a long-term extension. Bradford’s two-year deal he signed with the Eagles expires at season’s end. Jeff Dickerson and Rob Demovsky would encourage a franchise tag scenario similar to Washington’s Kirk Cousins course of action, while Michael Rothstein said a Bradford deal makes sense only if the 29-year-old signal-caller would be amenable to a one- or two-year pact. Teddy Bridgewater re-emerged to do some on-field work in late May, although the recovering passer has yet to return to official Vikings practice. He has a complex contract situation, but the Vikings did not pick up his fifth-year option.
  • The Colts allocated much of their linebacker funds to adding outside ‘backers, but they did make some investments to help patch some holes inside. They added Sean Spence and Jon Bostic and used a fifth-round pick on Northwestern’s Anthony Walker. Despite Bostic being signed to a one-year deal worth just $690K and having missed the 2016 season due to injury, Colts.com’s Kevin Bowen projects he will claim one of Indianapolis’ starting inside linebacker jobs. Bowen tabs the other spot to be wide open. Bostic hasn’t started more than one game in a season since starting eight for the 2014 Bears.

West Rumors: Lynch, Kap, Rams, Bolts

John Lynch has vouched for Colin Kaepernick‘s desire to play football throughout this offseason, but the new 49ers GM doesn’t think all of his peers believe him. Lynch said it would be in Kaepernick’s best interests to communicate these desires to remain in the league publicly.

I would tell you with my conversations with Colin, he is fully committed to wanting to be in this league,” Lynch said during an interview with San Francisco radio station KNBR (via Pro Football Talk). “I gave that opinion to Colin myself: ‘I think you are having a little bit of an image crisis in terms of, not so much what you did last year, but people are wondering: Is this most important to you?’ At a position where the guys who succeed at the position are the guys who live it, breathe it, the CEOs at that position. And I think there is a perception that football is not at the top of the list.”

Kaepernick remains a UFA despite several less accomplished quarterbacks landing backup jobs. While he visited the Seahawks and has maintained a public profile on social media, he hasn’t spoken out about his football career this offseason. Late last month, a 49ers employee questioned Kaepernick’s commitment to football, saying he only wants to return to stay relevant.

Here’s more from the Western divisions, first shifting to the 49ers’ Los Angeles-based rival.

  • During Day 2 of the draft, the Rams traded down from No. 37 to 44 and picked up an extra third-round pick from the Bills. Sixth-year GM Les Snead said during Amazon’s “All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams” that he doesn’t get too attached to second-round talents because he’s confident offers will be there to trade out of the spot and stockpile more selections. “You don’t want to pick early second [round] often,” Snead told new HC Sean McVay (via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com). “But when you’re picking early second, never fall in love with a player. You’ll always get an extra third[-round pick].” The Rams selected safety John Johnson with that third-round pick.
  • McVay’s presence and the addition of multiple wideouts this offseason will help Jared Goff, with Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com noting that McVay’s newer-age offense will benefit last year’s No. 1 overall pick more than the Rams’ previous “antiquated” attack. The Rams ranked last in total offense by more than 40 yards last season, at 262.7 per game. The team added Robert Woods in free agency and used third- and fourth-round picks, respectively, on Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds.
  • The Chargers signed a 10-year lease at their new facility in Costa Mesa, Calif., Jack Wang of the Orange County Register reports. The team is committed to lodge there for at least five years, per Wang, who adds that the Bolts have until the end of this month to depart their facility at Chargers Park in their previous city. Costa Mesa is currently serving as the Bolts’ temporary home, but the team hasn’t ruled out staying there on a longer-term basis. Wang reports the Chargers are still looking to secure permanent headquarters elsewhere in the region.