Grant Cohn: 49ers general manager John Lynch must go

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Fire John Lynch.

Fire him in a month. Fire him next Tuesday. Doesn’t matter. Just fire him soon and hire a new general manager, someone with experience. Someone who knows what he’s doing. Not another former-player-turned-broadcaster like Lynch who hasn’t the faintest clue about running an NFL franchise.

Lynch has been in charge of the 49ers for two seasons. His chief accomplishment was saying, “Yes,” and, “Thank you,” when the New England Patriots offered to trade him Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick.

Lynch was the luckiest general manager in the world that day. He was like a little boy who lost his first tooth, went to bed and woke up with a Rolex under his pillow.

But his luck ran out. He probably will tell you he can’t catch a break. Or, he might just be incompetent. He sure seems incompetent. Look at his draft record.

Here are the picks Lynch made in 2018:

Round 1: Offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey. No impact.

Round 2: Wide receiver Dante Pettis: Injured often.

Round 3: Linebacker Fred Warner. Good.

Round 3: Cornerback Tarvarius Moore. Rarely plays.

Round 4. Defensive lineman Kentavius Street. Injured.

Round 5. Safety D.J. Reed. Injured.

Round 6. Safety Marcell Harris. Injured often.

Round 7. Defensive lineman Jullian Taylor. Rarely plays.

Round 7: Wide receiver Richie James. Rarely plays.

Lynch made one good pick and wasted the other eight. I give this draft a D-minus. Now, let’s look at the picks Lynch made in 2017:

Round 1. Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. Bust.

Round 1. Linebacker Reuben Foster. Released.

Round 3. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Bust.

Round 3. Quarterback C.J. Beathard. Bust.

Round 4. Running back Joe Williams. Released.

Round 5: Tight end George Kittle. Good.

Round 5: Wide receiver Trent Taylor. Injured often.

Round 6: Nose tackle D.J. Jones. Backup.

Round 6: Linebacker Pita Taumoepenu. Bust.

Round 7: Safety Adrian Colbert. Injured.

That’s one good pick and nine wasted ones in 2017. The first five selections in particular were a joke. You or I could have done better. I give this draft another D-minus.

Maybe you think Lynch deserves a third chance. Maybe you think back-to-back miserable drafts to start a career shouldn’t define a general manager.

But the 49ers may get the No. 1 pick in the next draft. That pick could make or break the future of the franchise, depending on whom the 49ers take. How can they trust Lynch to take the right player, especially with so much riding on the decision?

Jed York must go through life with fear and trembling just knowing Lynch could blow that pick, too. Probably will. The next draft is too important to allow Lynch to run it. The 49ers need a professional, not an amateur.

The last time Lynch had a top-three pick, he took Solomon Thomas, and passed up three franchise quarterbacks (Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes), three Pro Bowl-caliber defensive backs (Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker) and two Pro Bowl-caliber running backs (Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey).

Any of those players would have filled a need and helped the 49ers. Thomas filled no need. He is an interior pass rusher and the 49ers already had two of those — DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. Two young first-round picks. Thomas never made sense for the 49ers.

Thomas is one of the worst players in the NFL. He might as well be invisible on the field. The 49ers probably would have cut him by now had they not drafted him in the first round. And they may cut him anyway at the end of the season. They should.

Lynch’s decision to draft Thomas was a fireable offense. But his decision to draft Reuben Foster was even worse.

Lynch knew the kind of person Foster is before drafting him. Everyone knew. Foster is not trustworthy, has a pattern of making bad life decisions and puts himself in terrible situations. That’s why he fell to the end of the first round.

Lynch drafted Foster anyway, traded up to get him. Lynch thought he could change Foster.


Foster didn’t change. Police arrested him three times in 2018, and the NFL suspended him for two games. In April, police arrested Foster for allegedly beating up his girlfriend, Elissa Ennis, and rupturing her eardrum. Ennis recanted her testimony and said she suffered the injuries in a separate fight that didn’t involve Foster. A judge dropped the charges against him.

And then, after the trial, the 49ers lost track of Ennis, although they should have been vigilant. And she didn’t hide.

She moved back in with Foster. They started dating again. Lynch didn’t know. Every day, he sent director of player engagement Austin Moss to check on Foster at his house, but somehow, amazingly, Moss never saw Ennis there. Never knew she and Foster lived together and had another domestic incident in October. Police came to Foster’s house but made no arrests.

Lynch should have protected his investment in Foster. Should have hired a private investigator to follow Foster after the first incident in April, because the investigator would have seen Foster with Ennis, and Lynch could have suspended Foster. Or advised him. Lynch could have prevented the final incident in Tampa, and saved Foster’s career with the 49ers.

Instead, Lynch let Ennis walk straight into the team hotel the night before a game.

Lynch should have stationed one 49ers security guard in the hotel lobby just to look for her. All teams station at least one security guard in the lobby. Where was the 49ers security guard? Where was Lynch? Doing pushups?

How can Lynch be a general manager if he can’t even manage a hotel lobby?

The job is too big for him. The next draft is way out of his league. Fire John Lynch.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers and Bay Area sports for The Press Democrat and in Santa Rosa. You can reach him at

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