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This thought came to mind as John Lynch and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah were standing together on the TCO Performance Center practice fields during Thursday's joint workout between Lynch's 49ers and Adofo-Mensah's Vikings:

"Has there ever been two general managers with more opposite backgrounds chatting each other up than these two fellas?"

Lynch was coming off the field when that thought was pitched to him. He smiled and then promptly spiked the query off this reporter's forehead.

"Actually," he said, "I think the big similarity is we came from very different backgrounds to become GMs. Right? Neither of us was that scouting assistant who worked his way up the old way.

"Kwesi came in through a different capacity in analytics, sure, but I also came in through broadcasting. So I think we bonded on that."

Roger, that.

But, c'mon, John. Kwesi's a skinny basketball player from Princeton. A Wall Street commodities trader until nine years ago. A guy who never played football. You played 15 NFL seasons, made All-Pro twice and the Pro Bowl nine times, and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of only 16 pure safeties in the 103-year history of the NFL.

"Yeah," Lynch said, "But I think we are both guys who believe you have to build a great team around you and be willing to hear them out. Wanting to hear them out because the job is so immense.

"When I got into town and spent some time with Kwesi, he said, 'Oh, man. I understand so much more now. I never knew about all the challenges of this job.'"

Adofo-Mensah was with the 49ers as manager of football research and development — aka "analytics guy" — from 2013-19. Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were hired in 2017.

"Doing broadcasting and hearing more about analytics, I was intrigued and felt, 'OK, how can we apply this to football like they do in baseball?'" Lynch said. "So Kwesi was really a blessing for us. The previous regime, Kwesi was there but not really utilized. Kyle and I, our attitude was, 'Why would we not use this guy?'

"And then when we got to be around Kwesi, and [current Vikings Vice President of Football Operations] Demitrius [Washington], and saw how gifted he really was, it was a no-brainer. I think all folks who are smart and successful have the ability to make the complex seem very simple. Kwesi was not only really good at having all these formulas and stuff, he was good at making them really applicable."

Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked for the 49ers as manager of football research and development from 2013-19.
Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah worked for the 49ers as manager of football research and development from 2013-19.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Adofo-Mensah also caught Shanahan's attention quickly. His curiosity knew no bounds, and his questions about football impressed even the most experienced of pure football men.

"I think Kwesi's just got a very unique skillset of a combination of a guy who is as smart as a whip but also has tremendous people skills," Lynch said. "I always thought that would serve him well. Then Cleveland came and got him."

It was 2020. The progressive analytics bug had bitten the Browns big-time under GM Andrew Berry.

"I could see this all coming, but I still think Andrew took us by surprise when he came in when he did and offered Kwesi Cleveland's No. 2 job," Lynch said. "We had great hopes for Kwesi. Plans to move him up, but we got beat to the punch. I give Andrew a lot of credit for identifying him.

"It was painful to lose him, but he built such a tremendous program that Demitrius then took that and grew it from there."

After seven seasons in San Francisco, Washington joined Adofo-Mensah in Minnesota this offseason.

"The good thing is Demitrius also grew other people behind him," Lynch said. "I just love to see people succeed. I'm proud of those guys."

One area where Adofo-Mensah is learning on the job is media relations. Since giving an interview to USA Today this offseason — and admitting afterward that he would start heeding the advice of his new wife, who told him to "say less" — Adofo-Mensah has not granted a one-on-one interview on the record.

"Talking to the media, now that is one advantage I had on Kwesi from playing so long," Lynch said with a laugh.

The USA Today interview grabbed headlines that made the new GM squirm. Most notable were comments about the quarterback position and how he called Kirk Cousins a "good quarterback," but added, "we don't have Tom Brady and we don't have Pat Mahomes."

"He probably learned a lesson, maybe thought some stuff was off the record," Lynch said. "What I can tell you is Kwesi's heart is pure, and he's a good man. He respects people. Anybody who took anything negative out of that, that's wrong.

"I had a couple people calling me after that saying, 'Hey, I thought you said this guy was a good dude?' I said, 'I promise you, he is.' He's fine. He'll learn from it. He'll be great with the media, just like he'll be great for the Vikings."