The first big question for new San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan to answer, as they attempt to re-establish a winning culture in the Bay Area, will be about the quarterback position.
"We've already discussed it but we're going to get together and find out exactly what he's looking for in a quarterback," Lynch said on KNBR-AM, via the San Jose Mercury News. "We're going to evaluate the guys we have. We're going to evaluate the draft. We're going to look hard at free agency, trades, whatever we need to do to get a guy."
The Niners could be starting completely over at the most important position in sports. Colin Kaepernick can opt out of his contract next month; Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis are all set to be free agents.
San Francisco has been linked to Kirk Cousins (who has Shanahan ties), but it would be a shock if Washington let him leave. Matt Schaub and Brian Hoyer are free agents that also have links to Shanahan, but both are deeply depressing options. Potential trades for the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo or Tony Romo could be costly for a team that has many holes to fill.
The 49ers also could look to the draft -- owning the No. 2 overall pick -- to select their QB. Lynch, however, is wary of heading into the season with a rookie under center.
"You get in Kyle Shanahan's system and you've got 15-word plays," Lynch said. "The coach is in your ear but you still have to replicate that with confidence and authority. It's a big challenge."
To illustrate Lynch's point, an NFL 360 piece by NFL.com's Michael Silver during the 2016 season proves educational. In the sit-down with Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan, even the veteran quarterback, a year into the system, stumbles over repeating the complex play call. Now imagine a rookie who has only ever received his play by reading sideline cards trying to spit back the multisyllabic call.
With a dearth of quality quarterbacks available on the open market, the 49ers might have no choice but to roll with an unproven quarterback. It's a possibility that Lynch understands could come with some agonizing growing pains in 2017.