49ers brass denies reports of strife as training camp opens

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SANTA CLARA — Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch swear they really like each other.

“Questioning our relationship is the stupidest thing ever,” Shanahan explained to reporters Friday morning, the day the 49ers reported to training camp.

Reporting day is the most positive and optimistic day of the football season. Players and coaches typically gush about how excited they are to return to football and how confident they are heading into the season. Why shouldn’t they feel confident? They haven’t lost yet.

Despite all of that general positivity, the 49ers’ head coach and general manager had to respond to reports of friction between them, as well as strife between the front office and the scouting department.

According to Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne, members of the 49ers’ scouting department feel discouraged because Lynch doesn’t value their input on players during the draft or free agency. Instead, Lynch listens to coaches, who don’t know the players as well as scouts do.

Lynch didn’t deny Bleacher Report’s assertion, nor did he apologize for his methods.

“I think we have a really good process going,” he said. “The way we chose to do this may be different from some others. It’s the way we think is best, ultimately. We pride ourselves on listening to everyone, and everyone’s voices being heard. Ultimately, two people have been charged with making decisions to give this team the best opportunity to win, and that’s Kyle and me. That’s the way it is.”

Bleacher Report interviewed an anonymous 49ers scout, who said Lynch and Shanahan have drafted several players the scouting department didn’t endorse, including defensive end Solomon Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Joe Williams, safety Tarvarius Moore and defensive end Kentavius Street.

In addition, certain scouts wanted the 49ers to consider drafting defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with their first-round pick this year, but the coaching staff insisted the team take defensive end Nick Bosa, the story said.

“Voices are being heard, but they’re the wrong voices,” Dunne wrote.

Shanahan addressed that claim on Friday. “I’ve been in a lot of buildings. More people have a voice in here than any place I’ve ever been. When it comes down to it, one or possibly two people make the decisions. That’s the NFL. If people have a problem with that, then I’m glad they’re in another building.”

Meaning Shanahan believes the source of Bleacher Report’s article is a disgruntled scout who no longer works for the 49ers.

“There have been two stories (during the offseason) that have been negative about us,” Shanahan said. “Both came from the exact same spot. That, to me, is a person who is not here (anymore). I feel pretty good about that.”

The second story also came from Bleacher Report and broke just after the draft. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller cited sources inside both the 49ers’ scouting department and coaching staff who said Lynch and Shanahan don’t share the same vision for the team. According to Miller’s sources, Shanahan no longer trusts Lynch’s ability to scout players, and feels he needs to help Lynch do his job.

“The respect continues to grow in what we’re doing,” Lynch argued. “With time, you try to improve on everything you do. I can assure people we really do like each other. And more importantly, we communicate really well on every facet of this football team, and that’s fun. It’s fun to work with someone you believe in. I’ll leave it at that.”

Which means everything is hunky-dory in 49erland.

Notes

The 49ers cleared quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and linebacker Kwon Alexander for training camp. Both players tore an ACL last season.

Neither will play in the 49ers’ exhibition opener Aug. 10 against the Dallas Cowboys, but should be ready for the regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 8.

The 49ers placed four players on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: running back Jerick McKinnon (knee), center Weston Richburg (thigh), safety Jimmie Ward (collarbone) and tight end Garrett Celek (back).

McKinnon suffered a setback last week during his recovery from ACL surgery. The 49ers believe he will return during camp.

The 49ers hope Ward will be healthy for Week 2 of the preseason and Richburg will be healthy for Week 1 of the regular season. But Celek will not return until Week 7 at the earliest. He’s recovering from offseason back surgery.

To fill in for Celek and Richburg, the 49ers signed center Dillon Day and tight end Niles Paul on Friday afternoon. Day, 27, was an undrafted free agent in 2015 who has played zero games in his career. Paul, 29, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 who played the first three seasons of his career for Shanahan when he was the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013. In 2018, Paul played six games for the Jacksonville Jaguars and caught 10 passes for 98 yards before spraining his MCL. The Jaguars waived him Dec. 14.

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