Yes, talent is important when it comes to the upcoming draft, John Lynch said. But the new 49ers general manager more often has used a different word – culture – when it comes to what he and head coach Kyle Shanahan are seeking later this month.
“We also have to get guys with football character who can help to reset a culture and embody kind of what Kyle and I feel like leads to success in this league,” Shanahan told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on the latter’s podcast.
As an example, Lynch cited the first prominent free agent the team signed, nose tackle Earl Mitchell.
“He’s a guy we identified when we started watching tape, saying, ‘This guy’s a culture changer because look at how hard he plays.’” Lynch said. “That kind of effort – I’ve been around it. It’s contagious.”
Addressing the team’s culture was seemingly at play last week when the 49ers released starting cornerback Tramaine Brock less than 24 hours after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge. Brock met with Lynch for nearly two hours after he posted bail on Friday and before Brock’s release from the team.
“You’re dealing with people’s lives, so I’d never want to use a situation as sending a message,” Shanahan said Monday when asked about Brock. “It’s just us trying to do the right thing, whatever that is. I think each situation’s different and you’ve got to look into every situation, gather all the information that you can. When you do, you try as hard as you can to make the right decision, and I think that’s what I felt we did.”
Does the emphasis on culture offer any hints about the upcoming draft?
Two top prospects, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and LSU safety Jamal Adams, have been consistently cited for their character and leadership ability, and because of that might be good fits for the 49ers at pick No. 2. “In this draft, if we had one person that some day may be a senator of the United States, it’ll be this guy,” long-time personnel man Gil Brandt said of Thomas.
Then again, Lynch may not be limiting himself to squeaky clean players.
After all, one of his teammates on Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl-winning squad – indeed, one of that team’s leaders – was Warren Sapp, who was considered a bit of a risk after he was linked to positive marijuana tests before the 1995 draft.
Lynch, meanwhile, insisted the 49ers’ draft board remained fluid.
“I think you know me to be an honest guy: We don’t know yet, in all the scenarios we’ve run through, who we’re going to pick,” he said. “We’re not there yet. … We’ve got some ideas, but we’re not set in stone by any extent (about) what we’re going to do.”