5 botched moves John Lynch, 49ers made over course of 2021

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, John Lynch, 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 and General Manager John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The 49ers effectively maximized their output in 2021, making it to the NFC Championship game, but these moves by John Lynch deserve criticism anyway.

In some regards, the San Francisco 49ers completely outperformed their expectations over the course of the 2021 season.

Originally thought to be a playoff contender but certainly not a team that could make the Super Bowl, the Niners ultimately bounced back from a lowly 3-5 start and rode that momentum deep into the postseason, making it to within one quarter of winning the 2022 NFC Championship game and earning a Super Bowl berth.

The latter part ended in failure, of course. And while San Francisco’s ability to exceed expectations is a commendable thing, one can only wonder if a Super Bowl could have been the case if general manager John Lynch and Co. had done a few things differently.

Lynch has the 49ers in good shape, yes. But he’s not immune to criticizing some of the decisions both he and head coach Kyle Shanahan made over the course of the year.

In retrospect, and in light of the NFC Championship loss, let’s take a look at five choices Lynch and the Niners should have handled differently.

No. 5: 49ers botched handling of Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance

It’s a moot point right now, as Shanahan elected to stick with veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the bulk of the season, only pulling Garoppolo when he was injured in favor of the No. 3 overall pick from last year’s NFL Draft, Trey Lance.

Still, the offseason decision to retain Garoppolo after Lance was drafted was going to create a circus, and it did. And Shanahan’s early tendencies to rotate Lance and Garoppolo on the field during the regular season didn’t help matters either.

While there’s no direct correlation to that rotation and San Francisco starting out 3-5 on the year, it was evident the team was in a funk. Fans and the media alike were calling for Lance to start, amid Garoppolo’s struggles, yet the locker room seemed fully on board with Jimmy G remaining “the guy.”

The 49ers should have been either bold from the get-go, trading Garoppolo not long after Lance was picked, or should have been wholly steadfast in who was going to see first-team reps over the course of the season.

Not the back-and-forth duties seen over those first few weeks.