John Lynch Not Acting the Part of Novice GM with Impressive Round 1 Haul

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystApril 28, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 02: General manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers answers questions from the media on Day 2 of the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It's been a heady few months for John Lynch.

As 2017 dawned, Lynch was calling games on television for Fox Sports. When the 45-year-old was hired at the end of January as the new general manager of the San Francisco 49ers despite having exactly as much front-office experience as I do, eyebrows went up across the NFL.

More still were raised when Lynch jumped into his first free agency as GM with both feet, signing more players than any other team in the league.

However, a theme that began with those signings continued through Thursday's first round of the 2017 NFL draft.

The so-called novice who wasn't supposed to know what he's doing certainly seems to know what he's doing.

It didn't take long for Lynch to get the ball rolling Thursday. All of one pick, to be exact.

As ESPN.com reported, Lynch dealt the 49ers' second overall pick to the Chicago Bears for picks No. 3, 67 and 111 in 2017 and Chicago's third-rounder in 2018.

For those keeping score at home, that's three additional picks for moving back all of one spot. The Bears selected North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, while Lynch settled on Stanford edge-rusher Solomon Thomas.

The 6'3", 273-pound Thomas, who racked up 61 tackles and 8.5 sacks for the Cardinal last year en route to winning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, had been linked to San Francisco in many mock drafts after starring down the road in Palo Alto.

But the 49ers had made it no secret they were also potentially interested in trading back from No. 2. Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com tweeted that the Bears were convinced San Francisco had other offers on the table. That spurred the Bears to act:

Now, I can't sit here and say it was Lynch who said there were other offers. But I also can't say it wasn't. In any event, as Darlington also pointed out, it gets even better:

In essence, Lynch convinced the Bears to give him three extra picks so he could take the player he wanted to draft anyway.

Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

And Lynch wasn't done yet.

Heading into the draft, the stock of Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster had been sliding thanks to a diluted urine sample and dust-up at the scouting combine in February. Still, next to no one believed the 6'0", 229-pound Butkus Award winner would fall outside the top 20.

Well, as Round 1 wound down, Foster still hadn't been selected, and Mike Mayock stated on NFL Network's draft telecast that medical red flags on Foster's shoulder might be causing the drop.

Where some saw flags, Lynch saw an opportunity. An opportunity to get a player who was the consensus pick as the top inside linebacker prospect in this class.

As Tim Kawakami reported for the Mercury News, Lynch seized it, dealing that fourth-round pick he obtained earlier in the round from the Bears to Seattle to move up three spots from 34 to 31.

The 49ers had scouted Foster extensively during the predraft process. Per Albert Breer of NFL.com, until Foster's miscues in February, Lynch was considering taking him second overall:

According to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, despite that slip-up Foster made quite the impression on the 49ers while visiting with the team:

So, to recap: The 49ers got the player they wanted with their first pick, another player they really wanted they never thought would be available with their second, and still head into tomorrow's second day of the draft with more picks than they had when it started.

Granted, at this point nothing's guaranteed. As Mayock said in regards to Foster: "I'm amazed that he's fallen to this point. ... San Francisco better be right on him with that shoulder." But as NBC's Ross Tucker tweeted, Lynch may have just laid a desperately needed foundation for a 49ers defense that was historically bad against the run in 2016:

In the span of one night.

OK, so that comparison may lean toward hyperbole. But Thomas will join DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead on a defensive line that now features three young first-rounders. Foster gets to learn the game from one of the league's best in NaVorro Bowman.

The team still needs work. A lot of work. And there's still the matter of San Francisco's hole at quarterback. But shoring up a defense that allowed a staggering 165.9 yards per game on the ground in 2016 is a giant step in the right direction.

When Lynch was hired, 49ers CEO Jed York talked up the man he'd picked to rebuild his once-proud but now floundering franchise:

"Having already helped lead a team to a Super Bowl title as a player, John is equipped with tremendous insight into what it takes to create a culture that breeds sustained success. Having spent the last eight seasons as an analyst with Fox, he has honed his skills as a talented communicator while also developing valuable relationships around the league and a vast knowledge of the NFL that will be beneficial to our team. As we learned more and more about John, it became apparent that he was not only one of the best to ever play this game but also a Hall of Fame caliber man, one who people are compelled to follow."

Those comments may have drawn snickers, but the only person who's laughing right now is Lynch, who quipped before the draft that he hadn't gotten much shut-eye Wednesday night:

Get some rest, sir. You've earned it. Just be careful...

Another day like that on Friday and you might get charged with robbery.

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