In their first public appearance since being hired by the 49ers, new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan clarified how they plan to divide responsibilities over personnel.
Lynch said he will have control over the 90-man roster, free agency and the draft, while the 53-man roster on opening day will be Shanahan’s decision.
“But in all of those it’s also written, ‘subject to approval of the other guy,’ ” Lynch said. “That’s the way we wanted it.”
The 49ers introduced Lynch and Shanahan in a news conference Thursday at Levi’s Stadium, and a theme was the partnership between the two. Both arrive in San Francisco with no experience in their new roles. Both received six-year contracts.
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The length of those deals indicates the 49ers, coming off a 2-14 season, do not expect an immediate turnaround.
“I think in talking to Kyle, he was very direct with what he wants to do with the team and how he wants to build this thing and get it right,” 49ers owner Jed York said. “He knows that he’s going to have the leeway to do that and he’s going to have the time to do that.”
The 49ers wanted to bring in a GM and head coach who could work together and found their pairing only after Lynch – then analyzing games for Fox – mentioned his interest in a front-office job to Shanahan, who relayed it to York.
“To have an opportunity where an owner gives you a chance to come in with the GM, and to make sure that we both meet together before they do it, that’s what made this so special,” Shanahan said. “That’s something that I didn’t think … I could pass up.”
Shanahan arrives from Atlanta, where his tenure as offensive coordinator ended with a difficult overtime loss to New England in the Super Bowl last Sunday. After the Falcons blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead, Shanahan came under fire for some of his late play calling. He said Thursday he spent the day after the game at the Falcons’ facility, talking with players to get some “closure,” before departing for his new job.
“I remember every single play and I will go over those for the rest of my life,” Shanahan said. “When you’re the coordinator of an offense, or the head coach of a team, you’re responsible for what happens out there.”
Though now a head coach, Shanahan said he will retain play-calling duties on offense at least in his first season with the 49ers and will not designate a separate coordinator. That is fine with Lynch, who joked his vision for the offense is “whatever Kyle wants to do.”
“I think he’s innovative; I think he’s aggressive,” Lynch said. “Those are things I believe in.”
Shanahan, meanwhile, said he recognized in Lynch, who played 15 seasons at safety in the NFL, somebody whose competitive fire was not being stoked by his broadcasting job.
“He missed someone winning and losing at the end of a game,” Shanahan said. “He enjoyed doing the announcing and being a part of the NFL, but the fight to go through something with a group of guys and what we go through together – it’s not easy and it’s a grind for everybody, but it is worth it.”
Both men said they are building their respective staffs, aware that with free agency starting next month and the draft set for April, they have little time to ease into their new roles.
Lynch announced Thursday the 49ers have hired former Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew, an ex-teammate of Lynch, as a senior personnel executive, padding a front office that already includes new vice president of player personnel Adam Peters and assistant general manager Tom Gamble.
“I’ve got to surround myself with a great team,” Lynch said. “I’ve already done that.”
Asked about the 49ers’ talent level, Lynch admitted, “There’s some work to be done.
“I don’t think it’s a 2-14 roster, though,” he said. “It’s a little better than that.”
Shanahan is expected to bring multiple assistant coaches with him from Atlanta, including running backs coach Bobby Turner. Shanahan said he “made a commitment” to Turner to include him in his first head-coaching foray, but that he hopes longtime 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman will remain “in whatever other role he wants.”
As for roster decisions, Shanahan said he felt that having control of more than the 53-man roster was “not something to fight for.”
“I wanted both to have shared responsibility, and I think John felt the same,” he said. “We’re not, ‘If things go bad, I want to make sure I have all this stuff.’ Things aren’t going to go bad. We’re coming here together, and it’s going to work together, or we’re going to lose together.”