John Lynch shocked the football world when he stepped down from the broadcast booth to be the 49ers new general manager. Fans became weary of the hire as his first season got off to a rocky start. Everything changed however, when a mid-season trade for Jimmy Garappolo fell in his lap. That trade accumulated into a 5 game winning streak to end the season and gave fans a shimmer of hope for the future.
Unfortunately, that late season success did not attract a large amount of interest from outside team headquarters. Running back Jerick McKinnon and defensive back Richard Sherman were the only two premier free agents to sign with the 49ers. Talks continued with other top free agents but none showed any real interest. Those non signings lead to the team starting the season with glaring holes at key positions.
Despite a wealth of cap space, a desirable climate, and a promising head coach, John Lynch continues to whiff on signing quality veteran talent to the San Francisco 49ers’ roster. After signing (C) Weston Richburg, (RB) Jerick McKinnon and (CB) Richard Sherman, the 49ers have been on the losing side of just about every negotiation for blue chip free agents since the new league year began last March.
Once again, John Lynch finds himself on the short end of the stick as veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin chooses the Atlanta Falcons over the 49ers, despite reports that the 49ers “went hard” after him. Lynch could have claimed Irvin off waivers after the Raiders cut him, but apparently they didn’t like the contract they would have inherited. Instead, Lynch would join other teams in vying for the veteran pass rusher. As history suggests, that doesn’t really echo an aggressive approach to the situation.
The 49ers always seem to be a part of the conversation when it comes to available free agents, but as soon as there is any serious competition from other teams, the 49ers leave those conversations empty handed. This may sound a little too familiar for Niners’ fans. Former general manager Trent Baalke had similar failings during his tenure with the team which eventually lead to his dismissal.
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have made it clear that they intend to use the draft to build their team and that’s how it should be, but you still need to fill your roster with quality players when you’re able. Filling holes with cheaper talent when you have excessive cap room doesn’t make sense and will only hinder the teams development. Of course they shouldn’t mortgage the teams future with bad contracts, but sometimes you’ve just got to pay the piper. Otherwise, you might not be on the team when it’s time to reap those savings.
I’m not talking about over paying for players on the down side of their careers, or trading away valuable draft picks to get your guy. I’m talking about paying the player what he is valued on the basis of demand. In most cases the 49ers don’t want to do that or at least haven’t found a player they feel deserves it. Regardless, the 49ers have failed to draft, sign, or trade for a proven edge rusher, which has been a glaring need since Alden Smith was released by the team in 2015.
With a few exceptions, John Lynch’s draft picks and free agency signings have showed some promise, but his inability to sign top free agents to fill glaring holes in the roster brings up a reoccurring theme of incompetence. I’ll give the organization a flyer this season, but if they fail to unload their available cap money again and have nothing to show for it, then let the eggs fly.