John Lynch’s virtual media draft tour

Monday afternoon, 49ers general manager John Lynch gave some media members a little virtual tour of his 2020 NFL Draft “war room,” which happens to double as his guest house. On his desk were three unfolded laptops, three stand-up computer monitors and three adjacent landline telephones – one dedicated to AFC trade partners, one to NFC teams, the third to internal 49ers and league communications. One huge flat-screen was mounted to the wall across the room, and it was flanked by two more freestanding units.

The one splash of color was a framed print of LeRoy Neiman’s painting of Dwight Clark making The Catch. Beyond that, Lynch’s office was a sea of screens and white walls.

“Kyle (Shanahan) and I, I think a big to-do was made that they came and hardwired our houses,” Lynch said. “Since we’ve been here, our houses have had systems as if we’re in our office. So it really wasn’t a big change for Kyle and I. It’s just getting everybody else up to speed.”

The coronavirus pandemic has changed virtually everything about life, and sports, in America over the past month. The NFL draft is one of the few major events that hasn’t been postponed or canceled, but it, too, is being significantly altered by a virus that has made it a terrible idea for human beings to gather together.

Thursday’s nationally televised first round will be a tonic to strung-out football fans. It will also be a grand experiment that promises to have a few moments of confusion, comedy and sheer panic on the part of 60-something personnel executives who can’t remember their log-in passwords.

NFL teams are used to conducting the draft remotely, each at its own team facility. But those individual efforts include dozens of scouts, coaches, medical team and support staff, all working in proximity to facilitate the next decision. That will be impossible this year. Lynch will have one techy at his office. I’m sure Shanahan will, too. But mostly the 49ers’ operation, like everyone else’s, will be a scattered web of internet connections.

Lynch said the Niners did an internal mock draft over the weekend. Monday, the NFL put together sort of a league-wide dry run. The Cincinnati Bengals had the first pick at 10 a.m. and, as noted in multiple media reports, they immediately glitched. Lynch said he thought the “chatter” about the event being chaotic were overblown, but admitted there were some inefficiencies at the beginning.

“Kind of important stuff,” he said with a  laugh, “where two teams were talking and the whole league was hearing it. That kind of stuff. But I think everyone then kind of tuned in, when they tell you to mute your stuff, you should probably listen. … But the good news was, I think the technology was working fine.”

NFL head coaches and GMs will get online again Tuesday for another run.

Really, draft night is the least of the NFL’s concerns. Most of the heavy lifting is always done by phone for that one. It’s the process leading up to the draft, and everything to follow, that is truly being impacted by the coronavirus and its aftermath.

Lynch talked about that a little Monday. Stay-at-home orders have made scouting more difficult in a couple ways, he said. The first is teams’ inability to spend meaningful time with prospects. These young athletes represent huge investments of time and money. It would be nice to, you know, get to know ’em a little before you hire them.

“When you bring in a guy in for a 30 visit and get to spend two days with him,” Lynch said, referring to the 30 official visits each team is allowed to schedule with potential draftees. “Sometimes you have the meeting at a combine, it’s in front of 20 coaches. These guys are being wrung through the wringer, and a guy just doesn’t have a real impressive 15 minutes. This has happened a number of times. And then they come out for a 30 visit, they loosen up, you get ’em comfortable, and you’re saying, ‘This is exactly the type of guy.’”

The other disparity has been in medical examinations. That applies to prospects who weren’t invited to (or chose not to attend) the NFL scouting combine in February, and to those who under normal circumstances would receive a follow-up exam.

“Oftentimes at the combine, it’s ‘Hey, he’s got a medical situation going on, but we’re gonna recheck here in six weeks and we’ll give you a much clearer picture,’” Lynch said. “That really hasn’t been able to happen, other than guys proactively, and their agents, sending letters from doctors. But our doctors haven’t had the opportunity to get their hands on (information).”

Of course, no one affiliated with the NFL should be complaining too loudly. The NBA, NHL and MLB are all in the midst of suspended seasons; no one knows when any of them will begin play, and basketball and hockey may well be unable to crown a 2020 champion. NCAA spring sports were wiped out along with March Madness. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are on hold for a year.

The NFL was lucky enough to be in its deep downtime when the virus hit America. For the most part, it has been business as usual for the country’s most popular sport.

That won’t last forever. NFL teams generally hold rookie mini-camps right after the draft, and veteran mini-camps shortly thereafter. Those are probably off the table. May and June OTAs are in question, too. Training camps as July turns to August? Preseason games? The start of the regular season in September? Nothing is written in stone right now, because no one knows how the pandemic is going to play out.

How is Lynch feeling about it all?

“That kind of changes (with) the last person I talked to,” he said. “Some people make a really compelling case that there’s no way this is happening, and that scares me. Some people make a very compelling case that we’re playing, and this is how we’re going to do it. I think we’re like everybody else. We’re eager to do so.”

Lynch admits he has felt conflicted at times about conducting offseason business. With people everywhere struggling medically, financially and mentally, NFL free agency and the league’s annual draft feel a bit insignificant.

But, Lynch said, “After free agency, I can’t tell you how many people called or touched base and said, ‘Thank god you did that, because it’s the only thing that we’ve got to keep us entertained.’”

It’s hard to explain the comfort sports can deliver during a crisis, but the phenomenon is real. And for the NFL and the 49ers, the show will go on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

This article has 49 Comments

  1. “Thursday’s nationally televised first round will be a tonic to strung-out football fans. It will also be a grand experiment that promises to have a few moments of confusion, comedy and sheer panic on the part of 60-something personnel executives who can’t remember their log-in passwords.

    That’s funny.

  2. When Lynch talked about taking a foundational player at #13 if no trade materializes, that’s code for; it’s OT folks. QB, DE or OT are their 1st round foundational positions in the first round….

    1. Razor
      If the 9ers take an OT at #13, it marks the end of an era! It may be Staley retires now, or at the end of the season,
      but we’re witnessing an end of 9er era.

  3. Putting all thoughts of need aside who will be the bpa pick at #13.

    I think the highest ranked player that will still be available will be a tackle. Odd’s seem pretty strong that you will have at least 2 possibly 3 QB’s taken in the top 12. Add 3 WR’s, 2 CB’s a DE and a DT and you have 2 picks left before us. That leaves the tackles. Wirfs seems almost certain to be gone for sure as well as at least one other tackle, whether it’s Thomas or Wills remains to be seen. However that leaves either Thomas/Wills and Becton as still available.

    If we can’t get Jeudy or one of the CB’s I’d be very happy with either Wills or Thomas.

    1. If Lynch wants a “difference maker” (code for a day one starter), I narrow it down to WR, OL and DT.
      He also stated that the team still has high hopes for Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd. This may dampen the need for a WR.
      I’m starting to lean towards Lynch drafting a top OL player.

    2. CFC
      #13 depends on many things:
      What do the NYG do at #4? Do they take a WR or OG?
      Depends on DEN. moving up and taking one of the big 3 WR’s
      Depends on the NYJ and LV and who they draft at #11 and #12. Do they draft a WR or not?
      Depends on if the 9ers get an offer they can’t refuse.

    3. I tend to disagree. I think teams will be safer with their picks and all 4 of the top OTs will be gone making the BPA a DT or WR.

  4. They had a practice draft to work out the bugs, and no trades, so I think it will be way different on Thursday. Miami should select a QB, so one of the top 3 WRs should be available to the Niners. The Broncos may want to move up a couple spots to possibly get Ruggs. The Dolphins may want to leapfrog in front of the Bucs and select Thomas. Maybe they will pass on a QB, then trade up to 13 and select Love.
    .
    This practice run had Detroit taking Brown, but I just do not see that. I know the Lions had the worst pass defense in the league, so in my mock with the others, I am going with Okuda, because it just makes so much sense.

  5. Grant was on the “Nothing butNiners” youtube mock draft this afternoon as a guest . When he got introduced the contributors were not happy – “Niner ByNature​: He’s not even a niner fan” , “Rolls Royce​grant = hater ” LOL
    Adam Schefter: Niners open to trading either first round pick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnMjqbktDyE
    My gut tells me the Niners are interested in trading back from 13 and drafting Justin Jefferson in the late teens or 20s.

    And in other word news ….

    1. Ruth Chris , a 400 million dollar company, pockets 20 million from the small business fund and still lays off workers. Pretty shameful. I prefer Mortons and Flemings . I am reminded of the time Trump ripped off the 9/11 small business fund. What a weasel. The writing was on the wall.

      1. I was hoping that Phil Barber would stop the political posts from both sides of the aisle. Sadly, the cesspool Grant allowed to fester and grow is still here.

    2. Lee, if you posted video links of segments from Brooke Baldwin and Erin Burnett, you’d get more interest in your political views without having to write anything. Sex sells. Even someone my age wouldn’t mind looking at those women from time to time.

  6. Lynch was asked about a report from former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, who said the 49ers were actively shopping Goodwin, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander and Jaquiski Tartt. Lynch suggested the only player the 49ers are actively shopping is Goodwin.

    “Marquise is the one guy out of that group that you mentioned where there’s active discussions going on,” Lynch said on a video call with reporters. “The other guys, we love and are really looking forward to playing with moving forward.”

  7. POSTERS MOCK 1ST ROUND WILL BE ON WEDNESDAY, BEGINNING AT 3 PM PST.

    GEEP: Picks 1 (Bengals), 7 (Panthers), 13 (NINERS!), 19 (Raiders), 25 (Vikings), and 32 (Chiefs; I swapped 32 and 31 for you so you didn’t get to do both Niner picks).
    RAZOREATER: Picks 2 (Redskins), 8 (Cardinals), 14 (Bucs), 20 (Jaguars), 26 (Dolphins), and 31 (NINERS!)
    SEB: Picks 3 (Lions), 9 (Jaguars), 15 (Broncos), 21 (Eagles), and 27 (Seachickens)
    POT…KETTLE: Picks 4 (Giants), 10 (Browns), 16 (Falcons), 22 (Vikings), and 28 (Ravens)
    REBELSCUM: Picks 5 (Dolphins), 11 (Jets), 17 (Cowgirls), 23 (Patriots), and 29 (Titans)
    DAVE: Picks 6 (Chargers), 12 (Raiders), 18 (Dolphins), 24 (Saints), and 30 (Packers)

    When it is your turn to pick, just post your pick and any explanation you want to provide about the pick or what you would do if you could trade. Just make sure: (1) the person in front of you has made their selection; and (2) you don’t pick someone already taken earlier. This should be fun…

  8. Right now I would have to say the player I would most like the 49ers to draft at 13 is Jerry Jeudy. I think he is going to be a fantastic player and would excel under Shanahan. But that’s also the flashy pick – while I would love to watch him play as a 49er I am not convinced he is the guy that would most help the team win games long term. That would probably be one of the top 3 OTs (I don’t include Becton – poor fit for the 49ers). The 49ers are unlikely to get another opportunity to add a top OT in the near future (they may not get that opportunity this draft either), Staley is getting close to being done, and it is one of the three most important positions on the field.

    Some people will argue having a top CB is as important and as big a future need for the 49ers, but I think it is easier to find guys to play CB a bit later or through FA in this scheme than it is to find a good OT. Especially given the strength of the 49ers DL and benefit that provides to the coverage.

    And some might argue that DT is a greater need right now and also a very important position. Probably true to some degree. But I think given the talent already on the DL there is no need to add another top 15 DT.

    So from a long term team building perspective I think OT is the right pick if one of the top 3 falls to 13.

    1. Scooter, I have to say that watching Jeudy on video amazes me at how easy it seems for him to get open. He’s likely to be a wonder in the NFL. I don’t see how they can’t draft him if he’s there, despite the needs on the OL. He seems to fit Jimmy’s skill set perfectly.

  9. “The 49ers want more picks. They feel confident in their ability to maximize the middle-to-later rounds. So they’re likely to trade the 13th pick and might trade No. 31, too. That was the message Lynch was communicating and I don’t think it was a smokescreen. I think it was mostly a way to brace 49ers fans, actually.”

    – Kawakami also suggest that these are the players being targeted.

    Ohio State edge Chase Thomas
    Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah
    Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs
    Clemson linebacker/safety Isaiah Simmons
    Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown
    Florida cornerback CJ Henderson or Alabama tackle Jedrick Wills

    1. The message I got from the GM was a couple more picks would help, BUT, the roster is good. Making it will be tough and any rookie coming in will have a difficult time making it.
      They have 7 picks. Lynch said 10 would be ideal but more than content to take the 7 and make the most of them as depth charts are solid.
      Leaving the draft with 12 new players means lots of cuts. Makes no sense. After the 1st round we can just focus on taking the BPA.

    2. I didn’t read the article, but based on what you posted, this doesn’t make sense. They want to trade the two 1st round picks in order to have more picks, which means they have more mid round picks. Yet, at least three of the “targets” are consensus top ten picks in the first round, and it seems like all six will be taken in the top 15, except I’m not too sure about Simmons. So how do you trade down in order to target guys almost certain to be taken in the top 10 or 15?

      1. Cubus, the players listed are the 6 that Special K is speculating as to who Lynch has determined are his foundational group that would discourage him from trading down from pick #13.

        I don’t think Lamb or Jeudy are on the board at #13, but Wirfs will be and they turn in the card for him.

          1. My “guy” lives in the CeeDee part of town. Maybe you’ve heard of him.

            I still believe Reagor is the wr Shanny wants. He was the guy I had them taking in February, and although his 40 time left a sour taste in my mouth, I don’t think it did in Shanny’s.

            Lynch has given several hints as to the direction he’s headed. First with the video monitor of him scouting a Louisville game, which was obviously Becton. Next with his comment about taking another foundational player at #13. There’s only 3 positions that are foundational under this administration. QB, DE and OT. Last but not least is sustainability. Lynch wants to build for success now and success into the future. Now they veered away from that a little bit when they traded for Sanders, but were proven prescient by securing a ticket to the big dance. Wirfs comes from a program they respect. He’s a fit schematically, and he’s a candidate to slide a little bit unlike Brown….

  10. Doesn’t look like da Bears will be picking up Trubiscuit’s option @ $24 million. By contrast, we’re paying Jimmy around that much. Da Bears are on Pace to be dysfunctional….

  11. The Niners could possibly do something bold to get the replacement for Buckner. How about trading Dee Ford for Yannick Ngakoue? It sounds like the Jags are going to be desperate to get rid of Ngakoue, and he is spitting bullets at the Jag FO..
    .
    Then, the Niners may take K’Lavon Chaisson at 13, to replace Ford.

      1. Sounds like they made promises, that they did not keep. He has a legitimate beef.
        .
        They should have traded him like they did Ramsey, but now want to hold him like a slave and refuse to pay him what he deserves.
        .
        I fault the Jags for 99% of this headache. Buckner got paid, and he is happy, with the Niners happy to have 2 first round picks.
        .
        One cannot treat players like chattel, and expect him to lick their boots. Hmmm, Baalke is in charge of player personnel? I’m shocked, truly shocked!

        1. Sounds can sometimes play tricks on the mind.
          .
          Where do I sign up to be a slave for millions?
          .
          In any working relationship it’s a good idea for the employee not to call the employer names. Especially if the employee wants another boss to trade assets for him.
          .
          Baalke can treat me like chattel for $19 million. He can even kick me off the bus with one of those boots.

          1. Ngakoue is not Solomon Thomas. He played for years at a high level for peanuts.
            .
            Guess we will have to agree to disagree. He is forcing the issue. Maybe now, something will get done.
            .
            They promised to trade him, but by waiting and making him mad, they are losing bargaining leverage. If they had just kept their promise, and traded him away, they would have gotten a better deal, and he would have been happy. Just like Buckner.

            1. I like those kind of peanuts. Playing at a high level gets you more peanuts. Now if he can mature as a man, maybe he’ll another employer to trade some peanuts for him.
              .
              Acting like an immature brat never gets you the candy bar when I was a parent. It got you a trip to the little boys room.
              .
              They’re losing bargaining leverage because your boy is acting out, and nobody wants to trade for a spoiled brat that’s throwing a temper tantrum. If he was that Eucking good, a team would overlook his immaturity but he’s not.

              1. No. lets look at the facts. In 4 years, Ngakoue earned 4.7 mil. In 3 years, Solomon Thomas earned 23 mil. ST earned more in his rookie season than Ngakoue did in 4 years.
                .
                Then lets look at production. Ngakoue was on the All Rookie Team and was a Pro Bowler in 2017. He averaged over 9 sacks per season.ST has been a rotational player, and has 6 career sacks.
                .
                Ngakoue informed the Jags he no longer wanted to play for them, because of their egregious conduct towards him. They should have let him walk, and would have been rewarded a third round compensatory pick. Instead, they slapped the Franchise tag on him, promised they would trade him, then have done nothing. They should have ignored his Twitter and worked quietly to get a deal done. Instead, they condescended towards him and made things worse, so it is 99% their own fault.
                .
                If Ngakoue is as bad as you think he is, they should just cut him and save 17 mil in cap space.

              2. So you’re blaming Thomas for Ngakoue not getting drafted higher? That’s not a fact, it’s a joke.
                .
                Look all you want. Doesn’t change the fact he’s scaring away the customers.
                .
                You can’t trade what no one wants. How is that a promise broken?
                .
                Release him because he threw a tantrum? Bad business.

              3. Slave?????????? Freakn Seb…………thats your far left Alice in Wonderland thinking coming out. Pay me 19 million and i’ll pick weeds in your 2.5 all day long.

              4. No, I am comparing contracts, and production. Ngakoue has 37.5 sacks. Thomas has 6. Ngakoue should be paid more, and was a free agent, until they slapped the franchise tag on him.
                .
                Saw, he was a FREE agent. He is no longer FREE. What is the opposite from being free? Involuntary servitude.
                .
                He had free will to decide not to play for the Jags, but they plan to keep him from moving to another team, unless they get paid a king’s ransom. No wonder he is so mad at them.

    1. “How about trading Dee Ford for Yannick Ngakoue? It sounds like the Jags are going to be desperate to get rid of Ngakoue, and he is spitting bullets at the Jag FO..
      .
      Then, the Niners may take K’Lavon Chaisson at 13, to replace Ford.”

      That doesn’t provide a replacement for Buckner. Ngakoue is only about 250 and he and Ford play the same position.

      1. So noted. Maybe I should have said that they would get back a Pro Bowl player.
        .
        You are right, and K’von Chaisson would help replace Ford, but with Ngakoue, he would be the replacement. They may still need to select a DT, even with Ngakoue.

  12. Aaron Wilson
    @AaronWilson_NFL
    Texans, 49ers, Vikings interested in versatile Baylor LB Blake Lynch @BUFootball https://www.houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/texans/article/Texans-interested-versatile-Baylor-LB-Blake-Lynch-15215895.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

    Texans interested in versatile Baylor LB Blake Lynch
    The Texans, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers are among the NFL teams that have been in contact with Blake Lynch.

    houstonchronicle.com
    9
    1:57 PM – Apr 21, 2020

  13. Justin M
    @JustinM_NFL
    Full list of Darrynton Evans meetings.#Colts, #Titans, #Cardinals, #Bills, #Chargers, #Falcons, #Saints, #Jags, #Jets, #Bears, #Eagles, #Cowboys, #Texans, #49ers, #Broncos, #Lions, #Panthers, #Bucs, #Browns, #Steelers, #Chiefs, #Dolphins, #Giants, #Rams, #Ravens, #Browns.

    32
    2:10 PM – Apr 21, 2020

    Quite the amount of suitors for the young man.

  14. Lynch admitted to internal discussions over a day or two about pursuing Brady, but ultimately decided that Jimmy was their quarterback answer for today and tomorrow. Rather than address the rumor publically, they chose to keep Jimmy in the loop as they went through the thought process. Very un-Baalke like….

    1. My amatuer guess would be the 4th round but the 3rd wouldn’t surprise me. Any higher than that and I’d be extremely surprised.

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