John Lynch said something that made Kyle Shanahan uncomfortable.
Before I tell you what that was, let me tell you about Lynch and Shanahan. Both are blank slates. Shanahan, the 49ers’ new head coach, has never been a head coach. He has been an offensive coordinator, a successful one. Jed York believes Shanahan’s success will transfer to his current position. The burden of proof is on York.
Lynch, the 49ers new general manager, has never been a general manager. He has been a successful player. York believes Lynch’s success will transfer to his current position. The burden of proof is on York.
York sat behind a table with the two blank slates Thursday at their introductory press conference. Shanahan came across as intelligent, confident, frank, specific, measured. Clearly the most qualified person at the table.
Lynch came across as a politician, raising hope for the future with vague generalities. He spoke first. Thanked the Yorks. Thanked his family. Thanked his former employer, Fox. Then he introduced Shanahan.
“He is one of the brightest minds in the game,” Lynch said. “This year he engineered one of the most prolific offenses in the history of football. The Falcons led the league in almost every offensive category.”
Shanahan looked down and breathed a deep sigh. Lynch had made a mistake. Shouldn’t have invoked the Falcons. Shanahan can’t duplicate what he accomplished in Atlanta. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones aren’t coming to Santa Clara. Shanahan needs moderate expectations because the 49ers are years away from being good.
I asked Shanahan why he wanted the 49ers job.
“I went into these interviews being very honest,” Shanahan said. “To be able to talk to Jed realistically (about) where we thought the team was at and where we thought it could go … and to see his commitment — when a guy is committed and gives you a six-year contract, that shows that he’s willing to give you some time. What I don’t want to do is come here and make a bunch of decisions just trying to save ourselves right away.”
That means Shanahan believes he can build the team gradually without getting fired if he loses more than he wins the first season or two. Believes he has York’s word and patience, although York hasn’t been patient in the past. The burden of proof is on him.
Here’s how York should define “success” for Shanahan in his first season.
First, Shanahan needs to find two quarterbacks — a respectable veteran who can be a bridge and a young quarterback for the future. Shanahan should not look for his starter in the first round of the draft. That would be his first mistake.
This year’s crop is no good. Shanahan should sign a veteran — Jay Cutler would be a smart choice — and draft someone in the middle rounds, someone Shanahan can develop the next few seasons.
About an hour after his press conference, Shanahan met with reporters and explained what he looks for in a quarterback: “An extremely talented thrower, which means it’s effortless. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to go to all these quarterback gurus and work on your motion — you were born to throw.”