With need at QB, Bears must monitor Browns, 49ers closely

SHARE With need at QB, Bears must monitor Browns, 49ers closely

49ers GM John Lynch. (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — Bears general manager Ryan Pace isn’t the only NFL decision-maker who speaks enthusiastically about his options when it comes to addressing his quarterback situation.

New San Francisco 49ers general

manager John Lynch might actually be more upbeat about it.

With Colin Kaepernick officially opting out of his deal Thursday, the 49ers don’t have a quarterback under contract for 2017.

“A lot of people look at it like, ‘Oh my gosh, you don’t have any quarterbacks,’ but that also is somewhat liberating in that you can create this thing and that position — that is so critical — in the way that you want it,” Lynch said during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center.

“Now, we’re restricted by who’s available and whatnot, but we’ve got a lot of great options at our disposal. We’ve got the No. 2 pick in the draft.”

When Pace talks about having plans for different scenarios, it involves watching how other teams execute their plans, too. This year, keeping tabs on Lynch’s 49ers and the Cleveland Browns is essential.

Not only are the Browns and 49ers ahead of the Bears in draft order — an important factor for the first, second and third rounds in a very deep draft — but they’re looking at quarterbacks, too. The Browns also own the 12th overall selection.

The Browns have Robert Griffin III, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan under contract, but it’s thought they will target a top quarterback in the draft, especially with coach Hue Jackson in his second season.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday that the Browns are “strongly considering” taking North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky with the first overall selection.

“We’re going to keep searching,” Jackson said before the report. “We all understand no one’s really claimed this position yet on our team so we need to do everything we can to continue to add a player that we feel, as an organization, really good about, that can lead our team. We’ll continue to chase that.”

Lynch, meanwhile, was fairly effusive in his praise of the top four quarterbacks in the draft — Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

Trubisky? “He measured over 6-2, so he made himself some money. The more you watch him, the more you like him.”

Kizer? “This whole thing is not about an interview but if you’re grading him on that alone, he blew the doors off it. He’s an impressive young man.”

Watson? “I love winners, and he has that. . . . You could see there’s a confidence, an aura that he carries himself with that’s pretty special.”

Mahomes? “The film is pretty special. He’s a fun guy to watch.”

The combination of Lynch and new coach Kyle Shanahan makes the 49ers intriguing. Lynch is an unknown, having gone from star safety to broadcaster to general manager. Shanahan has his connections to Jay Cutler, but also to Brian Hoyer, who was praised by Pace and coach John Fox on Wednesday for his 2016 season.

Hoyer, whom the Bears signed to a one-year deal last year, started 13 games for the Browns in 2014 when Shanahan was their offensive coordinator. Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was the Browns’ quarterbacks coach that season.

“As we’re planning, there’s a number of different scenarios we’re looking at,” Lynch said. “Some of those include, ‘Let’s have a young guy and let’s have an old guy to kind of be there with him.’ So those are all mixes that you look at.”

Those also are mixes that the Bears have to be aware of. It’s a matter of being prepared.

“I just have to be flexible because there are some unpredictable things that can happen along the way,” Pace said Wednesday. “We’ve kind of gone over every situation. That’s where we’re at.”

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Email: ajahns@suntimes.com

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