It didn’t take long for former Tampa Bay Buccaneer John Lynch to make an impact as the first-year general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Slated to draft second overall, the rookie executive literally hoodwinked the Chicago Bears into giving up three lower-round draft picks to move up from the third pick.
Lynch, recently inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor, simply ran rings around his counterpart, Ryan Pace, and the Bears organization. The Bears got what they wanted, North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. So did Lynch, when he selected Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.
The Bears could have had Trubisky and still have three more draft picks. With so many defensive holes, Lynch had no intention of drafting him.
Pundits, fans, and executives are scratching their heads over the Bears move. Remember, it was only two months ago they signed Mike Glennon away from the Bucs for $45 over three years to replace the interception machine known as Jay Cutler.
Lynch wasn’t done. By trading two lower draft picks to Seattle, the 49ers were able to grab Alabama star linebacker Rueben Foster, whose stock had dropped due to “off the field issues.”
Bucs fans know Lynch is a smart guy. Not only did he prove that with his handling of the first day of the draft, he also demonstrated the knowledge that you do not embarrass another team after you’ve taken them to the cleaners. Instead of deploying the hard-hitting style he unleashed on the field, a satisfied, but dignified, Lynch followed his sack of Chicago with an extended hand to help them up.
“Kudos to the Bears. They saw a player they wanted at a really important position,” he said at a post draft press conference. “I’m sure a lot of people are going to give them heat because (Trubisky) only started 13 games, but he’s a guy we, frankly, liked. So, I give Ryan Pace and (Bears Coach) John Fox a lot of credit for making a courageous move and we’re thrilled with what we got out of it.”
In a pre-draft message to fans, Lynch talked of a collaborative process among 49ers’ coaches and executives. Among those he singled out was Senior Personnel Executive Martin Mayhew, a former GM at Detroit, former NFL player, and Florida State star under Bobby Bowden.
Following Lynch’s second move, the 49ers had nabbed two of their top three targeted players. He has clearly impressed most NFL observers with the way he went about improving the NFL’s worst run defense in 2016.
“So maybe John Lynch is qualified for the 49ers GM job after all,” wrote USA Today’s Steve Ruiz, who represented the huge majority of the commentary. “Everyone was laughing when San Francisco hired him, but if his first draft is a sign of what’s to come, they made the right choice.”
The bar is now raised for Lynch. The performance of the players drafted Thursday and in the coming two days will help determine if he can leap over it.