Kyle Shanahan

How John Harbaugh advice guided Lynch-Shanahan dynamic with 49ers

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The 49ers launched a new era in 2017, hiring general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. The next chapter of one of the NFL's most storied franchises was placed in the hands of a Hall of Fame safety and a 37-year-old with deep coaching roots, hungry to carve out his own legacy in the league.

The Lynch-Shanahan partnership was set up to succeed, but things could've looked slightly different if not for some early advice from Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

Lynch recently told NBC Sports' Peter King an anecdote from the owners' meetings in 2017, shortly after he was hired. The GM was at a coffee shop and engaged in conversation with Harbaugh and Ravens front-office executive Ozzie Newsome. Lynch expressed he wanted his partnership with Shanahan to look similar to the one Harbaugh and Newsome built in Baltimore.

Lynch told Harbaugh that his plan when evaluating prospects was to work together with Shanahan, and simply move on if he liked a player but the coach wasn't convinced. That's where the Ravens coach interjected.

" 'The one thing Ozzie and I learned is if you feel really convicted on a player, it’s your job to sell Kyle on him,' " Lynch recalled Harbaugh saying in 2017. " 'Tell him why you love him. Show him film as to why you love him. If you can’t agree, then you move on. But man, there’re not enough good players that if one of you doesn’t like him when you start talking, next! I can’t tell you how many times where Ozzie’s loved a player and I hated him. But by the end, Ozzie’s got me all in and vice versa.’ "

Lynch took the advice to heart.

"That was a great lesson," the GM told King.

In the seven drafts Lynch has led in the San Francisco front office, the 49ers have selected gems like Nick Bosa, perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, and the versatile Deebo Samuel. Fred Warner was a great find in the third round in 2018, and tight end George Kittle, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and safety Talanoa Hufanga all were fifth-round picks.

Brock Purdy, of course, could go down as Lynch's finest work if he continues to quarterback the 49ers at a high level this season and beyond.

No GM is perfect, especially when it comes to the NFL draft, but Lynch and Shanahan clearly have followed Harbaugh's advice successfully.

“This job’s a lot about learning, adapting, adjusting and keeping your core beliefs about building a team," Lynch told King.

Now, all the 49ers duo needs is a Vince Lombardi Trophy.

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