The 49ers held a quasi-media event Wednesday evening to address the state of their franchise. And while they didn't answer any real questions, they did reveal the following three things.
1. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have different assessments of the roster.
Play-by-play announcer Greg Papa asked Lynch and Shanahan if the current roster is better than the one that lost in the Super Bowl two years ago.
Lynch answered first. "I think we have improved. We've improved our depth. There's always attrition -- you're going to lose people, you're going to add people, but I do think we're better. I do think we're more talented. I think we're well set up. I've got a lot of belief in our crew. I think good times are coming."
Bold answer. That 2019 was awfully talented and deep -- it lost only four games. Lynch has set the bar quite high for this 2021 team.
Shanahan spoke next and immediately undercut Lynch's optimism. "I do believe we have the chance to be better, but that's just how it starts. You have to earn that. And to be better, you have to go through some stuff. That means a lot of guys who haven't done it before, some rookies, some second-year players, some third-year players, guys who haven't totally done it before, but they have the ability to do it, they need to step it up and do it."
My interpretation: Lynch is under more pressure to win than Shanahan. So Lynch needs to believe this team has improved, needs to think good things are ahead. Shanahan can afford to be removed and analytical. Because if the 49ers have another losing season in 2021, they almost certainly won't fire Shanahan, but they might fire Lynch.
2. Fred Warner gave a tremendous endorsement of rookie defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
When Papa asked Fred Warner to give the state of the defense, Warner immediately talked about Ryans.
"DeMeco has been so big in the growth of my game," Warner said. "We came in together. He was the new linebacker coach, I was the new kid on the block and we've grown together. We're talking about a guy who's going to be a head coach real soon. He's everything you would want in a leader and a teacher. He has stepped in taken a grasp of this defense and brought his own twist to it."
My interpretation: Warner probably lobbied for the 49ers to promote Ryans. And Warner is a good judge of coaching talent, as is Robert Saleh and Kyle Shanahan, all three of whom have said Ryans will be a head coach soon. Sounds like he could be the next Mike Vrabel.
3. No one mentioned the quarterbacks.
Not Shanahan. Not Lynch. Not Jed York. Not Al Guido. Not George Kittle. Not nobody.
And when Papa asked Kittle about the state of the offense, Kittle mentioned nearly everyone but the quarterbacks. He mentioned Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Trey Sermon, Trent Williams, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Shanahan and even Nick Bosa. But not a quarterback. Hmm.
My interpretation: The interviewers probably were instructed not to ask about Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance, and the interviewees probably were instructed not to mention them, either. Because anything they said about the quarterbacks would overshadow the rest of the event, and would get overanalyzed for weeks until training camp started.
So I understand what the 49ers did.
But had they invited me, I would have asked about the quarterbacks.