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Front Office Promotions, Aiyuk Insight; 4 Takeaways From John Lynch

The San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl LVIII appearance made for a quick turnaround to the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine at the end of February. Two weeks after the conclusion of the 49ers 2023 season, San Francisco's braintrust is in Indianapolis to evaluate college football's top prospects and learn more about the next generation of players set to enter the league. For the first time since the 2021 NFL Draft, the 49ers will have a first round draft pick, No. 31 overall, and are slated to have 11 total selections after compensatory allotments were made for four players leaving during free agency last season.

President of football operations and general manager John Lynch addressed the media on Tuesday to discuss the biggest offseason topics including front office promotions, contract status for wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, free agency options for Jauan Jennings and more. Here are four takeaways from Lynch:

Following the departure of assistant general manager Adam Peters to the Washington Commanders, Tariq Ahmad and RJ Gillen have both been promoted to director of player personnel. 

Ahmad and Gillen are tenured members of the 49ers scouting department, serving as the Director of College Scouting and Director of Pro Personnel, respectively, and will now share equal titles within the front office. The move serves to effectively fill the assistant general manager position left vacant by Peters. Lynch explained that more moves within the front office may come in between or after the draft, but for now, the general manager is happy to be promoting for this position from within. 

"It was really an easy decision to promote both those two to director of player personnel," Lynch said. "We're not calling them 'co-directors of player personnel' simply because I think they both earned it on their own... I'm really excited for those guys. They've both been integral parts to who we have been as an organization and it is very natural."

As contract talk regarding wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk heats up, the 49ers remain optimistic and complimentary of their 2023 receiving yards leader.

Aiyuk closed out 2023 with Second-Team All-Pro honors and finished as the 49ers receiving yards leader for a second-straight season. The former 2020 first round draft pick had his fifth-year option picked up, however, the 49ers have historically signed their big-time extension players prior to the start of their fifth season. That's been the case with defensive lineman Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel most recently. Heading into the offseason, and again at the NFL Combine, Lynch has reiterated the integral part Aiyuk has played on San Francisco's offense and wanting him to remain in a 49ers uniform, but no moves have been made at this point.

"Brandon's one that we think incredibly highly of, one of my favorite guys around our building," Lynch said. "The way he approaches the game, he's a competitor. He's a warrior. He plays with such a physicality, also with a grace, the way some of the positions his body can get into.

"Then, he's got a flare for making plays when it matters most, and he's served us very well as a franchise. I think we've got a nice track record of extending the players that are important to us and Brandon's a guy we want to keep around for a long time."

There is also a desire to keep wide receiver Jauan Jennings, who is a restricted free agent, in The Bay.

Jennings is set to enter free agency as a restricted free agent after accruing three seasons of playing time in the NFL. The former 2020 seventh round draft pick spent his rookie season on the practice squad before transforming into an integral part of the 49ers blocking and pass catching game. Jennings shined in Super Bowl LVIII becoming one of just two players in NFL history to throw and catch a touchdown pass in a Super Bowl. He finished with four catches for 42 yards and a score in addition to his trick play touchdown pass to running back Christian McCaffrey in the second quarter of the 49ers 25-22 overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Lynch said no tender amount has been determined yet, if that's the route the 49ers opt to go regarding their No. 3 wideout.

"Jauan is really important to what we do. I think he continues to show that," Lynch said. "If the tender is the vehicle to keep him around for another year, I think we're also interested in extending him out, so there may be an opportunity to do that. We have to see where that goes and if we can come to an agreement there."

When it comes to their next defensive coordinator hire, the 49ers expect to remain committed to their defensive philosophy. 

"We like who we are and what we do as a defense, and I don't think we want to have a wholesale departure from that," Lynch said. "We like the style that we play, a four-down front that attacks, and having said that, you always have to evolve. You look at an opportunity like this to look into different ways in which we can evolve. Oftentimes, a lot of these ideas come up in these interviews."

Lynch confirmed the search for the 49ers new defensive coordinator is ongoing, and the general manager has sat in for a couple of interviews conducted prior to the NFL Combine. Lynch mentioned San Francisco's defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks and former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley as a couple candidates interviewed or to be interviewed for the position. Lynch added that there is "no rush" as the 49ers progress through the interview process.

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