Lynch aces 1st real test as 49ers GM

When John Lynch was appointed as the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 29, a million punchlines were born. Many analysts and reporters believed that 49ers CEO Jed York was completely out of his depth once again, hiring someone with no executive experience despite promising a thorough, painstaking search for the team's next pillar.

"We have to make sure that we get the right person," York said on Jan. 24, as the football world at-large openly mocked him.

After finding two key building blocks during the first round and filling arguably the most depleted roster in the NFL, it should be York laughing it up in the Bay Area as Lynch passed his first real test with flying colors.

There was a clear element of uncertainty about how the draft would shape up after the first pick. When the Cleveland Browns selected Myles Garrett first overall, many tried to anticipate what the 49ers would do in trying to assess to the rest of the board. Lynch and his staff didn't feel comfortable using their top pick on a quarterback and orchestrated a ransom from the Chicago Bears, receiving the No. 3, No. 67, and No. 111 picks, along with a 2018 third-round pick. In doing so, the 49ers were able to get the player they coveted all along in defensive end Solomon Thomas, another key piece in the 49ers' defensive makeover.

San Francisco finished as having the worst defense in the NFL last year by most metrics, allowing a preposterous 30 points per game. As the draft's first round neared its end, Lynch realized one of the top players on his board was still available and dealt the No. 34 and No. 114 picks to acquire the No. 31 choice from the Seattle Seahawks. Reuben Foster, widely considered the best inside linebacker in his class, was still available and the 49ers rushed their card in to gain a marquee talent.

Lynch was scrutinized for a lack of management experience but shone during his first draft with the 49ers by acquiring two marquee talents, filling holes at defensive and cornerback, while extracting the most value possible from the event. It's possible Lynch will serve as the precedent when teams look to make an unorthodox hire for their management positions in the future.

It's a good start for Lynch and his staff but there's plenty of work ahead. Lynch told ESPN's Adam Schefter "No one told me this deal was this tiring," after the weekend concluded. But he still has a long way to go before turning the 49ers from a laughingstock into a contender.

Almost everyone in the football community expected Lynch to fail, or at the most optimistic, put together an unremarkable draft at best. The collective opinion is turning in Lynch's favor and there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the previously moribund 49ers.

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