A select group of college football players from around the nation have gathered at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine to perform a series of physical and mental tests for their chance to make it to the big league.
Although having attended the event every year since becoming the San Francisco 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan remained in Santa Clara this week to sort out this offseason's coaching turnover and review schematics while also tuning into the combine's Zoom meetings. However, general manager John Lynch made the trip out to Indianapolis to scout talent and communicate league business with fellow teams, committees and agents face-to-face.
"It's a tough week," Lynch said. "The hours are long, but you can be extremely productive and you can get a lot done. But most of all, we're here as part of the evaluation process for these prospects."
Over 324 NFL hopefuls are attending the week-long showcase which includes on-field workouts, private meetings with clubs and extensive medical evaluations. But amid the on-going series of assessments, what is it that the 49ers look for during the combine? For Lynch, the former NFL safety enjoys feeling the young athletes' passion for the game.
"The workouts are great and things catch your eyes in those workouts, but I can go home and watch those workouts on tape," Lynch said. "The interviews are where I get the most. You're right next to the guy, looking a guy in the eye and feeling their energy, or feeling their passion, or not feeling that. And so that's really what the combine is all about for me."
The spirit that a young prospect has for the game of football is important to Lynch as he looks back at the 49ers previous season. San Francisco's general manager was featured on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Wednesday and described the 2022 NFC Championship game as "the one that got away."
"We're built to close, so that one sticks with you," Lynch said. "That's why you pay really good attention when you're here listening to these kids at the combine. Because you're trying to add to what we have, which is already a really strong group. I think our future is bright both here and in the near future. I think we have a team that is set up for sustainable success as well. I like where we're at. We have to find a way to get better."
Lynch, Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers scouting and coaching staff will be evaluating the college athletes throughout the next several weeks and will come together to make their decision as to who is fit for the team at the 2022 NFL Draft in late April.