INDIANAPOLIS -- John Lynch held court on Thursday from the 2019 NFL Combine in Indianapolis. His press conference was followed by a side chat with Bay Area reporters who made the trip to the Midwest. The San Francisco 49ers general manager covered a myriad of topics. Here are the most important notes from what Lynch had to say.
1. Three's Company
The first question Lynch answered was in regards to the team's willingness to part ways with either C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens via trade. Both have shown flashes of being a capable NFL starter. Beathard has made 10 starts over his first two seasons, throwing for a combined 2,682 yards, 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mullens posted a 3-5 record as the 49ers starting quarterback for the second half of 2018. He finished the year with 2,277 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 picks.
Lynch said he wouldn't rule out moving either QB, but he reiterated that the 49ers could very well keep all three in 2019.
"It is an extremely important position in this league, and we like each and every one of those guys for what they bring to the table, both in their talent and who they are as people," Lynch said.
2. Looking for a LEO
Everyone is well aware that San Francisco is looking for a standout edge rusher this offseason. This year's draft class offers several viable options, namely Ohio State's Nick Bosa and Kentucky's Josh Allen. Lynch detailed what he's looking for in a prospect to fill that LEO role in Robert Saleh's defense.
“That’s a guy that can win 1-on-1 rushes at a high rate," the GM said. "You have to have a guy who can close out games, close out halves. When you have them, they can be a difference maker."
According to Lynch, it sounds like the team's new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek will run less games up front. Instead, 49ers defensive linemen could spend more time going 1-on-1 in Kocurek's Wide-9 philosophies.
"He cuts these guys loose," Lynch said. "They’re going to be playing with a quick trigger and getting after it."
3. Digging for Gould
It was a no-brainer for the 49ers to put the franchise tag on Robbie Gould. San Francisco was never going to let one of the NFL's best kickers walk out of the building in free agency. Although Gould will remain with the 49ers in 2019, the goal is still to sign him to a multi-year deal.
"I can tell you that we are huge fans of Robbie Gould," Lynch said. "He’s been as consistent as they come. I’ve known Robbie for a long time, and I knew that about him. We’re very hopeful. We did put the franchise tag on him, but we’re very hopeful that we continue talking and try to come to an agreement to keep him around for a while.”
4. Prime Opportunity for Pettis
The 49ers continue to have huge expectations of Pettis as he enters his second NFL season. San Francisco's second-round pick came on strong at the end of his rookie campaign and ended 2018 with 467 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
"We loved the way he closed this season," Lynch said. "There's some maturation that I think is naturally going to come in terms of putting some girth on and some strength. I think this offseason is very important for him."
Added strength and body mass will help make Pettis more physical, durable and explosive in 2019 and beyond.
5. Wanting Ward?
Jimmie Ward is set to become a free agent when the new league year begins on March 13. It doesn't sound like the 49ers are working on getting a new deal done before that date, but Lynch suggested that the door is open to bring back the team's 2014 first-round pick. The general manager made it clear that San Francisco thinks fondly of Ward and added that his potential return to the Bay Area will depend on his market in free agency.
"(He's) a very talented football player who grew into a special leader," Lynch said. "Jimmie is kind of a quiet guy and it takes him awhile to warm up, but he really asserted himself last year."
Ward has unquestionable talent. The obvious knock, however, is his inability to stay healthy. Ward hasn't played in double digit games since 2016. A new contract with the 49ers would likely be a one-year "prove it" deal or a multi-year deal laden with team-friendly fail safes regarding Ward's health.
6. Measuring Murray
Oklahoma quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray measured 5-foot-10 on Thursday. That was taller than most expected, resulting in an immediate buzz about Murray's worthiness of being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Lynch, like many others around the NFL, is tantilized by Murray's athletic ability.
"We aren't in the market for a quarterback, but I keep throwing his darn film on because he's so fun to watch. He's an electric player," Lynch said.
Should the Arizona Cardinals (or any other team) select Murray at No. 1, that would give the 49ers the top pick of any non-quarterback position player.