Not only did John Lynch take a class at Stanford alongside Solomon Thomas two years ago, he received an interesting phone call from Thomas around Christmas.
Lynch still was an NFL broadcaster at that point. He was nearly a month away from even broaching the possibility of becoming the 49ers' general manager. He was skiing with his family when Thomas, a redshirt sophomore whom he had come to know through the class they took, called. Lynch recalled the story on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show Friday morning.
"It was Solomon saying, 'Mr. Lynch, I need your help. I've got to decide whether to enter the draft or not. And I don't know what to do. I'm down at the Sun Bowl,'" Lynch said. "And so, I said, 'Listen, I can't tell you one way or the other. Your head coach is a great friend of mine, David Shaw, I played with him at Stanford. But what I can do is get some information from other people that I do know.'"
Lynch said he called two general managers, Seattle's John Schneider and Arizona's Steve Keim, as well as someone he would later hire with the 49ers, Denver's Adam Peters.
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"They told me where they thought Solomon would go, and I just gave him that information," Lynch said.
His overarching suggestion, though, was telling Thomas to "go play the greatest game you've ever played. Be un-blockable, be unstoppable." If he did that, Lynch said, his decision would be easier.
Thomas took that advice to heart, dominating the North Carolina offensive line throughout the contest and overshadowing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, including on North Carolina's final snap when he sacked the quarterback.
The 49ers selected Thomas at pick No. 3 after dealing the No. 2 pick to the Bears. Chicago wanted to draft Trubisky and was worried that another team would cut a deal with San Francisco and take Trubisky at pick No. 2.
When Bears general manager Ryan Pace asked as the draft got underway if other teams were calling about the pick, Lynch said they were. He was pressed in Friday’s radio interview on whether he really was getting those phone calls.
“Well, I think you’ve known me a long time -- I’m an honest guy,” Lynch said with a laugh. “And I promise you, I did. And I guess that’s part of this game, there’s cynicism. But, yes, we did.”