Former NFL head coach Anthony Lynn was a running back with the 49ers and Denver Broncos during his six-year NFL career. Turner coached him during his early seasons as an assistant with the Broncos under Mike Shanahan.
“He’s got the most out of every player he’s ever coached because he has that unique ability to relate to people,” Lynn said of Turner.
Lynn was hired this offseason to the role on Kyle Shanahan’s staff of assistant head coach/running backs. He reflected last week on what has made Turner such an effective coach over nearly three decades in the NFL.
“He can be a father figure,” Lynn said. “He can be a mentor. He can be an a—hole. Anything he has to be, he can be. And that’s kind of been his advantage.”
Turner, 73, underwent multiple surgeries at the conclusion of last season and felt as if he needed time away from the grind of coaching to focus on his physical therapy.
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Lynn inherits a group of running backs that includes returning players Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Trey Sermon. The 49ers added Ty Davis-Price with a third-round draft pick.
“So far, it’s been really cool working with these guys and just listening to them talk about him because I ask, ‘What did you learn from coach Turner?’” Lynn said. “And hearing the things come out of their mouth that we used to say was kind of cool.
“And this has been over decades. You can’t talk about him without talking about how he’s helped you off the field. And when you can help an athlete become a better man, he’ll become a better football player. That’s what coach Turner is all about. He’s the complete coach.”
Turner last year was named the winner of the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award for excellence as an assistance coach, as presented by the Pro Football Writers of America.
The Broncos had 11 individual 1,000-yard rushing seasons during his time with Denver, including a four-year span (2003 to ’06) of having a different 1,000-yard rusher each season. Terrell Davis was a sixth-round draft pick who was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In Turner’s five seasons with the 49ers, the club had a different leading rusher every season (Carlos Hyde, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Wilson and Mitchell) and averaged 4.4 yards per rushing attempt.
Lynn’s style of coaching is heavily influenced by his time with Turner, he said. But he promises to put his own stamp on managing the players in his room.
“I do believe in coach Turner’s philosophy,” Lynn said, “and some of the things he taught, I’m going to teach. But I might do some things a little different. We’re all different.”