John Lynch demanded secrecy to test if 49ers would leak info

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Thursday, February 2, 2017

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Before agreeing to become the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, John Lynch had some questions about the team's recent reputation for leaking information.

So Lynch decided to use his candidacy for the job to put the team to the test. Speaking to KNBR radio in San Francisco on Wednesday morning, Lynch said he asked CEO Jed York and executive Paraag Marathe to keep his name a secret during their search for a new general manager.

"I made a big deal that this stayed quiet," Lynch said. "First of all, you know what I was doing? Part of the rumors are things fly out of that building. So I wanted to see could I trust this building, you know? And so that was part of my thinking."

Through the past few years, the 49ers had become known for information seeping out, notably including many concerning quarterback Colin Kaepernick's status and most recently with the news that coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke would be fired the night before the season finale against Seattle.

When Lynch spoke to Bay Area media via conference call on Monday, he repeatedly mentioned his desire to ask Niners leadership "tough questions." While he declined to go into specifics at the time, he did mention how important it was to him for his name not to come out publicly.

While the Niners were mostly transparent during the process of interviewing nine general manager and six head-coaching candidates, Lynch's name didn't surface until the moment he was hired.

Noting that he didn't need the job because he was happy with his job as an analyst at Fox, Lynch said he wasn't afraid to address what he called the "elephant in the room."

"I'm incredibly appreciative and fortunate in this world that things stayed quiet because what that did, it allowed me to truly assess this situation, to ask the tough questions, to just kind of get with the people that I'm going to be working with and any elephant in the room, just get rid of it and ask questions," Lynch said on Monday. "I didn't need the job. So, that gave me a great position to be able to kind of just be very forward and I asked those questions, and I'm proud of the way that happened. I'm proud of the way they responded.

"A lot of people are saying, why was it so important to be secretive? I've had people ask me that. I wanted to be able to best evaluate this situation as it developed, and I thought it would be much easier if I didn't have the world breathing down my throat."

According to Lynch, York answered every question to his satisfaction both verbally and through their actions during the interview process.

"If I was going to engage in these conversations, we can't beat around the bush," Lynch told KNBR. "We got to get right to: 'Do I want to work for these people?' I can tell you what I found, my interaction with Jed York: He's a guy that all he wants to do is win.

"He's tired of some strife and some contention in the building. He wants harmony. He wants to give us the resources. He wants to be a support mechanism, but he wants to get out of the way and let us work. And, to me, that's an awesome deal."

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