So here we are, “Championship Weekend.” After stumbling, searching, and maturing, the San Francisco 49ers are competitive again. They have the NFC Championship on the line, are favored, are pretty much the better team in a majority of the positions when compared to the Green Bay Packers.
In 2017 this team couldn’t buy a win. When John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan were hired, they preached patience to the fans. The one thing to really go over is John Lynch’s opening press conference. You can watch it here. Shanahan and Lynch won the week with this, but I wanted to go over a couple of things Lynch said. From the presser:
“People who know me well will tell you that I’m not into a whole lot of promises, but I will make a few. I’ve been pretty clear in saying that this week, [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I are on the same page that we’re going to put together and assemble a team and how long that takes we don’t know, but we’re going to assemble a team that will make you proud. I can promise you this; we’re going to have players that will compete, that will compete every day, that will compete to be the best that they can be. They’re going to be great teammates. We’re going to have a team that plays fast. We’re going to have a team that plays physical. We believe in those things. We’re going to have guys with great character, football character and we’re going to have guys that are interested in making their community a better place.”
That’s probably the best way to say, “I’m going to do my best,” without saying it. It’s also a lot of the right things to say, which might leave someone curious if they will actually do it. How many times do you hear a press conference where they say, “I promise this,” or “I’m going to get the team that,” and they never live up to it? Hell, Rex Ryan promised playoffs in his presser. With the Buffalo Bills.
But let’s really look at these promises. The first statement is being saved for last. So the second one will begin this breakdown:
“I can promise you this; we’re going to have players that will compete, that will compete every day, that will compete to be the best that they can be.”
The San Francisco 49ers played both 2017 and 2018 seasons where they couldn’t buy a win. That didn’t keep them from trying. Yes, there were blowouts, but there were also fun games. Games that happened late in the season, when they had nothing to play for, that they showed up and kept it close. It takes a certain kind of coach to keep their players motivated (Chip Kelly wasn’t it), but it takes a certain type of player to respond. Remember, in 2018; the 49ers lost their starting quarterback in Week 3, that’s a knockout punch right there. It never was pretty, but the 49ers hung in there and had several games coming down to the wire.
“They’re going to be great teammates.”
Two stories this week that need to be mentioned with that. First is Emmanuel Sander’s press conference, where he said he loved the wide receiver group (remember when he fought Courtland Sutton?). There’s also a story on Ahkello Witherspoon getting benched early in the Vikings divisional game for Emmanuel Moseley and turning around asking for Moseley’s special team’s reps to keep Moseley fresh. A starting cornerback got yanked from what was the biggest game of his life, and he wants to do that? There aren’t many people who would respond like that.
“We’re going to have a team that plays fast.”
“We’re going to have a team that plays physical”
There’s a few things to think of. Deebo Samuel taking someone’s head off for the ball, Nick Bosa knocking a poor quarterback back to third grade; but if you think physical, and the 49ers, you gotta think of this:
We’re going to have guys with great character, football character and we’re going to have guys that are interested in making their community a better place.
Check out this great story on Richard Sherman and his visits to B1, a Juvenile detention ward. What is he there for? To tell these kids they can turn their lives around. And here’s Jimmy Garoppolo working with Make-a-Wish Foundation to let kids meet their hero.
John Lynch has answered every promise listed above. He has a team with character, toughness, and competitive spirit. A team that also is working to make the community a better place. It’s worth noting that there’s only been one player that’s caused issues, and he was swiftly dealt with.
So that brings up the first promise Lynch made:
We’re going to put together and assemble a team and how long that takes we don’t know, but we’re going to assemble a team that will make you proud.
How proud you are of this squad—and if Lynch fulfilled that in your eyes—is of course, up to you.