Sport Jimmy G highs and Reuben Foster lows: The new life of 49ers GM John Lynch

03:10  15 february  2018
03:10  15 february  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Jimmy G highs and Reuben Foster lows : The new life of 49 ers GM John Lynch So, John Lynch are you sure it was a wise move to leave the cushy broadcast

49 ers GM John Lynch is learning a lesson: The good times for an NFL exec, like the Jimmy Garoppolo signing, come with the bad times, like Reuben Foster 's legal issues.

So, John Lynch ... are you sure it was a wise move to leave the cushy broadcast booth and ride the roller coaster that is the everyday life of an NFL general manager?

A week like this has to make the 49ers GM wonder.

Lynch had to be feeling great late last week when quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year contract. Then came the phone call Sunday morning that all GMs dread — I know from experience. One of Lynch's rising stars, Reuben Foster, was arrested on charges of domestic violence, making threats and possessing an assault weapon.

MORE: Details of Reuben Foster's arrest

Lynch already knows about the ups and downs of GM life based on what he experienced over the past year since joining the 49ers, particularly with the team staggering to an 0-9 start before surging to a 5-0 finish. The key ingredient down the stretch, of course, was Garoppolo, a midseason trade acquisition.

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The money attached to Garoppolo’s new contract is record-breaking: $137.5 million, the largest deal in NFL history on an average-per-year basis. Some observers questioned whether a player with so few starts to his name was worthy of such a huge deal, but Lynch got a structure conducive to the 49ers’ salary cap situation — front-loaded with a $37 million cap number this year when the 49ers have more than $100 million in cap room.

Lynch was happy not to have to franchise tag Garoppolo, which would have kept the QB's contract situation hanging over the team throughout 2018. With the former Patriots backup having won all seven of his NFL starts and Lynch being saluted for pulling off a steal in the trade, there was no other choice but to pay the piper.

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Lynch and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan were all smiles at the press conference to announce the Garoppolo signing. Life was good in 49erland.

Then the Foster bust occurred. It was the linebacker's second arrest in a month; he was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in Alabama in January.

a man wearing a suit and tie: John Lynch © (Getty Images) John Lynch

Foster was a controversial player going into the 2017 NFL Draft. He was considered a top-10 talent but fell to Lynch and the 49ers at No. 31 overall due to character and injury concerns. Lynch put more pressure on himself with his post-draft comments, saying he was not concerned about Foster's character and that the 49ers "were exhaustive in getting to know him."

After the draft, the 49ers kept their rookie linebacker focused on football. Foster stayed out of trouble and played well when physically able. He had 72 tackles and made the All-Rookie team, but he missed six games due to a high ankle sprain and a rib injury. Shoulder issues caused him to miss plays in other games.

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49 ers GM John Lynch is learning a lesson: The good times for an NFL exec, like the Jimmy Garoppolo signing, come with the bad times, like Reuben Foster 's legal issues.A week like this has to make the 49 ers GM wonder.

As is the case too often once the season ends and players are out of the team facility, trouble hits with young players such as Foster who have that proclivity.

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A GM has to hold his breath and try to provide the player with offseason guidance and support. He can't babysit the player 24/7. The Cowboys tried that with Dez Bryant, and perhaps the 49ers will take a similar approach with Foster, but it’s not something I would recommend. The expectation should be for players to act like mature professionals, or the team will find someone who will.

In this case, time will tell, but it appears Lynch had hoped for the best and may have gotten the worst.

It's easy to second-guess the decision Lynch made to draft Foster in the first round given the red flags, including a diluted sample for marijuana at the Combine, where he had a well-reported argument with a hospital worker, plus pre-draft shoulder surgery. But just as Lynch has taken a calculated risk in making Garoppolo the NFL's highest-paid player, he did the same when he selected Foster.

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49 ers John Lynch : ‘If Reuben hit this young lady, he won’t be part of our organization’. In the background is Foster 's new teammate, Richard Sherman, one of two 49 ers ' While Reuben Foster and the 49 ers defense got their first licks on with shoulder pads, Jimmy Garoppolo failed to connect

GMs take risks to some extent with every move they make. It can't always be a slam dunk like the terms of the Garoppolo trade; the quality of the player and person Lynch acquired in that case, at least as of this juncture.

I tried to steer away from questionable players during my days as an NFL exec. But with a roster of 70 or so players including active, injured reserve and practice squad, there are bound to be some challenges.

Foster is just that for Lynch and the 49ers, who have taken a hard stand against domestic violence since the Ray McDonald issues a few years ago.

When a team invests a first-round pick in a player, it represents millions of dollars of the club’s scouting budget spent to identify such a player. Then the contract itself is a major financial undertaking. It's easy to cut a seventh-round pick who gets jammed up, but it takes guts for a team to dump a first-round starter due to off-field misconduct.

Lynch and the 49ers want to determine — with the help of the courts and the NFL — whether Foster is guilty of the domestic violence charge. If so, they then must decide whether to cut him under a no tolerance policy or give him a second chance to get his act together.

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If I'm Lynch, even if Foster is not convicted in this case, I'm looking to release him and find a replacement in free agency or the draft. There's too much smoke here for there not to be fire regarding the domestic violence charge and assault weapon situation. Not to mention the injury concerns.

Cutting Foster would be a low moment on that roller-coaster life Lynch is now living, but he'll hope his new franchise quarterback can get the 49ers back to Super Bowl-contender status once the 2018 season begins.

Jeff Diamond is a former president of the Titans and former vice president/general manager of the Vikings. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year in 1998. Diamond is currently a business and sports consultant who also does broadcast and online media work. He is the former chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.

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