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Kyle Shanahan: John Lynch ready to be GM, lives and dies football

By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
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Kyle Shanahan: John Lynch ready to be GM, lives and dies football
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan speaks to the media during Super Bowl LI Opening Night, at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas on January 30, 2017. The Atlanta Falcons will play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI on Sunday in Houston. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

HOUSTON -- Reading between the lines is not difficult when the typeface is bold, 50-point and ends in an exclamation.

The endorsement of new San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch from soon-to-be head coach Kyle Shanahan was such a stamp, even as questions bubbled over about Lynch's inexperience in any type of football evaluator role.

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"John has been interested in it for a while," said Shanahan, who cannot officially be named head coach of the 49ers until the Falcons' season ends Sunday in Super Bowl LI. "John is a guy that I've developed a relationship with over the years. He's a guy that lives and dies football. He's a very smart guy who, I think, really wanted to get back into it where he could compete on Sunday and there's actually a winner and a loser at the end of the game."

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Shanahan spent part of this past weekend in interview sessions with 49ers' ownership and general manager candidates: Lynch, Vikings personnel director George Paton and Terry McDonough, a personnel executive for the Arizona Cardinals.

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Shanahan knows Lynch in part because the 2017 Hall of Fame finalist played safety for Mike Shanahan with the Denver Broncos. They are in regular contact because, as Kyle Shanahan said, he reaches out to Lynch after games and vice versa to discuss things that could have been played differently. That spans in-game strategy, personnel groupings and clock management.

Lynch, ever the defensive captain, and Shanahan, the 37-year-old schooled in his father's West Coast offensive ways and beyond, felt like their diametrically opposite vantage points helped paint a complete puzzle of a game.

Now the pair will need a game plan for the woebegone 49ers, who will officially name Kyle Shanahan head coach next week, their fourth in as many seasons (Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula, Chip Kelly).

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Owner Jed York said the 49ers had to split Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke because of a lack of chemistry, comparing the apparent abrasiveness to a bad marriage.

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Based on their session this weekend with York present and the existing dynamic, York sounds convinced he has a winning combination, and Shanahan said it all starts with mutual respect.

"John is a guy that I have a lot of respect for just as a man, as a person and also from his football knowledge," Shanahan said. "He did a great job this weekend (during interviews with the 49ers) along with the other two guys, too. Obviously decided to go with John so I'm excited."

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York told Sports Illustrated that he first met with Lynch only a few days before the interview in Atlanta over the weekend in which Shanahan was involved. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, currently serving as an analyst with ESPN, is likely to join the 49ers' personnel department, bringing experience to the equation and an established relationship with Lynch.

"We understand we'll have to live with growing pains, but I'm willing to do that because I believe the upside with both of them is so great," York said.

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