Kevin Burkhardt provided a glowing review for John Lynch on Monday. The FOX Sports play-by-play man spent the last four seasons as Lynch's tag-team partner for the network's No. 2 NFL crew.
Burkhardt, in an exclusive interview with 49ers.com, explained that the San Francisco 49ers hit a home run by hiring Lynch as the team's next general manager. Bringing on Lynch, a Super Bowl Champion from his playing days with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a positive step in Jed York's goal to re-establish a championship culture in San Francisco.
"I think he's going to be great for the organization," Burkhardt said. "I think John is great at everything he touches. I love him. I love him as a football guy. I love him as a motivator. He's got every skill imaginable to help run a football team.
"He is a leader of men. He is a tremendous communicator from top to bottom. I'm talking the highest person in the building to the lowest person in the building. They will all feel wanted, they will all feel motivated and he will lead. That's what he does. You follow John Lynch. I am positive that the culture will change."
Lynch enjoyed a decorated, 15-year NFL career as a Hall-of-Fame caliber safety. He made nine Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro twice. Lynch made the move to broadcasting after his retirement in 2007. For the last four years, Lynch and Burkhardt have climbed FOX's depth chart and eventually earned the No. 2 spot behind Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
"He is the most respected guy I've ever seen," Burkhardt said. "Every single person in the league likes him and respects him for who he is as a man, his football knowledge and his acumen."
The announcement came as a surprise to many on Sunday night as it was never reported that Lynch was a candidate for the job. Additionally, the former safety has never worked in an NFL front office. Burkhardt dismissed the notion by some critics that Lynch may not be ready to lead a personnel department.
View the top images of John Lynch's 15-year NFL career and his time with Fox Sports.
"The guy has been around the game his entire life," he said. "He's a Hall of Fame player, he's seen front-office dynamics plenty – being around the Broncos with John Elway. He's talked with front office personnel across the league. He's super well connected.
"This is not like a guy who just came off the field and a team was like, 'Hey, we're going to make you a GM.' He's been studying how to do this since he got done playing. I think he's more than ready for this.
"At some point, I think it's OK to give the job to someone who hasn't done it before. It's not like he's never touched a football before. I think he's going to be great. Sure, there will be some things he's doing for the first time as an actual GM, but I'm not worried about it. He's way too smart, way too savvy and way too connected to fail."
Lynch's time in the broadcast booth helped him develop his eye for talent. You don't have to be in an NFL front office in order to be an evaluator.
Burkhardt added that he learns something from Lynch each week. He recalled one specific example a few years back while preparing for a game featuring the St. Louis Rams.
"He's always pointing out something that's never been written or never been said. An example I'll use is a couple of years ago, there wasn't a single word that I'd heard about Aaron Donald. He called me and said, 'Hey KB, I'm watching film, and this guy is Warren Sapp.' Now Aaron Donald is thought of as the best defensive tackle in the league. It's things like that."
Lynch is expected to be paired with head coach candidate Kyle Shanahan. According to Burkhardt, Lynch is very familiar with the current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator.
"He's going to hire a head coach who he respects the hell out of and gets along with extremely well. I don't think you can put a price on that – to have a relationship between a general manager and head coach already in place, knowing how well they get along and how much they agree on things."
San Francisco will have to wait to hire Shanahan until after Super Bowl LI. Even so, the new-look 49ers have begun their transformation.