Barber: 49ers GM John Lynch waits for Hall of Fame vote
MIAMI - ‘Well, it could make for a pretty cool weekend,” John Lynch said Wednesday, and he laughed along with the rest of us.
The 49ers general manager was barricaded by reporters, recorders and cameras at the time, during one of the big Super Bowl LIV media events. He was in the process of addressing a wide range of subjects related to the moves his team has made to get here. But this question was more personal: What would it mean to Lynch to be announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame member on Saturday, the day before the Niners played the Kansas City Chiefs for the championship of football?
“Fortunately, this year my mind’s occupied and I’ve got a lot of other duties, and so I haven’t thought about it a whole lot,” he said. “But I have thought it could be a very special weekend.”
Pretty, pretty special. I don’t know how many successful Hall of Fame candidates have been actively employed by a team playing in that year’s Super Bowl, but the club has to be pretty small.
With the vote just a day or two away, let’s tackle the question. Is John Lynch a Hall of Famer?
Certainly, a lot of the guys who played with and against Lynch will vouch for him.
“John Lynch only knows one speed,” said Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, a former running back who faced the rugged safety in both college (Bieniemy at Colorado, Lynch at Stanford) and in the NFL. “He played fast and he played hard, and that’s all you can ask. So as far as him being considered for the Hall of Fame? Why not? You know what I mean? He deserves that.”
San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan, who has worked so closely with his GM to develop the team, has only secondhand knowledge of Lynch’s body of work as a player.
“Just watching as a fan, he would fly around and hit,” Shanahan said. “I was always saying that as a fan. Then when I got to Tampa Bay (in 2004, the year Lynch left the Buccaneers), where I started my NFL career at, and all the tape I could watch there for two years — John wasn’t there at all, but the tape I got to watch on him, and how good that defense was, and how it would not have been that good if he wasn’t there, to me it was solidified right there in Tampa.”
Shanahan is biased, of course. And so is Warren Sapp.
When the Buccaneers drafted Sapp in 1995, Lynch had been there two years, playing for bad teams.
Tampa selected linebacker Derrick Brooks in ’95, too. Cornerback Ronde Barber arrived in 1997, defensive end Simeon Rice in 2001. They formed the backbone of an all-time great defense, one that carried Jon Gruden’s Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title after the 2002 season. Sapp and Brooks are already enshrined in Canton.
“They gotta give me my triplets,” Sapp said. “There’s Michael (Irvin), Emmitt (Smith) and Troy (Aikman of the 1990s Cowboys). And everybody else got their triplets. They got Jack Lambert, they got Joe Greene, they got Mel Blount (from the 1970s Steelers). I need mine.”
The retired defensive tackle continued: “We were three-tiered. If you got by me and Brooks, you gonna regret it. Because we was gonna be nice to you. Lynch was just gonna knock you out. It didn’t even matter. He knocked his brother-in-law out.”