SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, the 49ers new power couple, happily sat side by side at Thursday’s introductory press conference, with a 49ers helmet in front of them as a customary prop and CEO Jed York flanking them as their optimistic boss. This was the first visual of a coach-and-general manager union the reeling 49ers have made into a long-term investment, as each newcomer embarks on a six-year contract.
“It’s rare to get two guys to come in together with the same deal. That makes me comfortable,” Shanahan said. “… You know you’re going to win together and you’re going to lose together.”
This was unlike recent new-coach coronations, and the 49ers have way too many to compare it to now that Shanahan is their fourth coach in four years.
Instead of that new coach having to conform with an entrenched general manager — like recent tries under Trent Baalke, whose unions ultimately failed with Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly — the 49ers are taking a new, double-whammy approach with two novices.
“We aren’t where we want to be. We’re a two-win team right now,” York said, referring to last season’s 2-14 record. “We need to make sure we give these guys everything they can to get this thing up and running. I believe in these guys and think they’ll be around a lot longer than (six years).”
They’ve divvied up the personnel powers in a way both see fit: Shanahan controls the in-season, 53-man roster while Lynch oversees the offseason’s 90-man unit as well as free agency and the draft, in which the 49ers hold the No. 2 overall pick April 27.
“It’s also written: ‘subject to approval of the other guy,’” Lynch said of their contracts’ power share. “. … We’ve both seen places where it works. And we’ve seen places that it doesn’t work and you’ve got friction and that’s not what we were all about.”
Lynch is a first-time general manager, and although he exudes confidence from his past life as a star safety and Fox Sports broadcaster, he is openly humbled by his lack of front-office experience.
Shanahan is a first-time head coach, and although his confidence stems from nine years as offensive coordinator and as the descendant of long-time NFL coach Mike Shanahan, he is greatly humbled by last Sunday’s Super Bowl defeat as the Falcons’ play-caller.
In the wake of watching a 28-3 lead turn into a 34-28 overtime loss to the New England Patriots, Shanahan got hired by the 49ers on Monday to close a long-expected deal, and he then took a couple days to get “some closure” on his Falcons tenure.
“I was definitely grieving it and I probably will for a while,” Shanahan said. “… I remember every single play and I will go over those for the rest of my life. That’s kind of the life we live as coaches.”
Shanahan now will call the 49ers’ plays and, thus, he said he won’t need to hire an offensive coordinator, a void last attempted by four-time Super Bowl-winner Bill Walsh in the 1980s, when his offensive staff featured Mike Holmgren, Sherman Lewis, Dennis Green and Bobb McKittrick.
As an ode to 49ers lore, Shanahan recalled serving as a ball boy at training camps in Rocklin while his father was the offensive coordinator from 1992-94, a tenure culminated by their last Super Bowl win.
Lynch also drew upon the 49ers past, and he told York at the onset of this regime how they needed to encourage alumni back into the fold.
“Those guys created the standard that we’re striving for,” Lynch said. “I’ve reached out to a lot of these guys and let them know that not only are they welcome, we really want these guys around because that’s what we’re aspiring to be. I’ve also told them we can’t ride on their coattails.”
To help Lynch with his front-office foray, the 49ers hired Adam Peters away from the Denver Broncos’ scouting office a week ago to serve as vice president of player personnel. Thursday brought another addition: senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew, who mentored Lynch in the Buccaneers secondary from 1993-96 and later become the Detroit Lions general manager (2008-15) and New York Giants director of football operations (2016).