General Manager John Lynch Press Conference
General Manager John Lynch
Press Conference – July 31, 2023
San Francisco 49ers
“Fun day here. First day of pads. I was thinking back for some of you who have covered football for a long time. First day of pads. I woke up with a pit in my stomach today because what that used to always signify was a good, hard practice. But if you remember, the last eight of practice used to be a goal line, live period every time. And that’s when it was on. And some of us coaches were sharing those old stories today, and that was always a fun part of training camp and a way to set the tone for camp. We don’t do that anymore, but we’ll have plenty of thudding and the guys are ready. The team’s well-conditioned and has done a really nice job in the buildup phase. And now we go and put the pads on, really not a whole lot changes. So, excited about that. I know it’s different that I’m up here trying to take the load off some people and come season time Kyle and I just always had that agreement that I kind of go away. And I think that’s the right thing to do. I know that’s difficult sometimes for you guys not to hear from me, but I’m glad I can be here. I know there’s probably a lot of interest in what’s going on with the [DL Nick] Bosa situation, so I’ll just address that up front. I’ll reiterate what I said in the opening presser that we agreed, both Nick and I and Brian Ayrault his agent and representative and I, that it’s important that we keep those things private. So, I’m going to honor that. That’s how I liked it as a player and I completely understand that. I’ll just tell you, we have to strike the right mix of urgency. I don’t like this. I don’t like not having one of our best players here. We’ve got a really good track record that I’m proud of as a group of having our players in, but I also understand it and understand that we’re going to have to exhibit some patience and understand that ultimately this thing will work out. I’m very confident in that and we’re just going to have to have that right mix of urgency and patience. And again, I remain confident that we will come to an agreement and get things taken care of so we can have one of our best players, one of the best teammates, this is the guy that addresses our team every Saturday and just gives his wisdom. We miss him and looking forward to the day he’s coming back. So, with that, I’ll open it up for questions.”
You had said that you would forgive any fines that are accrued over this holdout. Is there a point where that forgiveness ends that it would become crucial for him to get in and you would start instituting the fines?
“Well, we have the ability because of where he’s at on his rookie contract and his option year. We have the ability to forgive those fines. And so again, some of that’s private, but we have talked with their camp on that and look, I don’t think that’s really necessary. That’s not going to get him in here. We’re both striving for the same thing, so we’ll focus on that.”
Bosa is always in great shape, but are you concerned at all that he’ll have enough time to get in football shape so he is at less of a risk of injury?
“Yeah, I think you always have to strike that right balance. Nick, he’s a specimen and he’s a specimen because he was blessed with some really good genes, but he’s also a specimen because he works as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen in this game. And his plan is meticulous, it’s adjusted each and every year. Having said that, I think there’s a point that everybody, as long as I played, in year 13, people used to ask, do you need training camp? I needed three weeks. I needed that to get ready. And so, I don’t know what that right time period, we’ve talked a lot about it internally, but I think that’s important to give yourself the best chance to not only play at the highest level, but to stay healthy and get yourself primed and ready, calloused to play.”
Any concern at all that you won’t be able to get a deal done?
“No. I’m very confident.”
Are you speaking directly with Nick Bosa at all or just through his agent?
“At this time, it’s been with Brian right now.”
You mentioned the complexity of this. Does the difference between Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald’s average annual salary and Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt’s average annual salary–?
“Yeah, I’m not going to get into those details, Eric. I appreciate the question, but like I said, I’m going to keep certain aspects and details of this private.”
Are there certain positions that you think need training camp and preseason games more than others? We’ve seen a lot of edge rushers step right off the street and into the fire. Is that special to that position?
“You know, I think everyone needs a little something. I think if you’re doing a pecking order, probably running backs, the one area that, you get the ball, you see the hole and you hit it and you go. But even those guys, they’ll tell you it takes some getting thudded up, ball security, all those things. So yeah, certain positions might be a little easier, but I think all of them, and some of that’s just you can be in as great a shape as you possibly can be, but until you get there and do football training, it’s just different. And that’s just a fact. So, I think that’s the reality of that.”
You mentioned running backs. Obviously, there’s a lot going on league-wide with running backs right now. You have one who’s very highly paid, not necessarily by you originally, but you do pay it. Moving forward with that position, how do you feel like it is going to evolve in terms of what will get those guys paid?
“Yeah, first of all, I’d tell you I have empathy and I think I can relate to those guys. I played a position that I felt like was undervalued for a long, long time. And I had to battle through that myself. I remember the people closest to me, ‘you make yourself invaluable and as much versatility, as much game-changing, can this team play without you?’ You have to try to make that such. I think we’re fortunate. Could we play without our guy? I think we could. Do we want to? No. that’s why we paid so much to go get him. And I credit [RB] Christian [McCaffrey]. He’s not just a running back. He’s a lot of things for us and we talk about him unlocking our offense. So, I’m just fortunate that we have a guy that can do that. And I think when we have a guy that can do that, it inspires the other backs to not just become running backs, to work on all facets of their game. And when you do that, you become more than just that. So, like I said, I have empathy for those guys. Having said that, I was always tied to the market at safety. I’m proud that I’m part of the guys who started to knock it down. So, I think those things happen incrementally and hopefully there’s some wins for those guys coming up because I do feel for them.”
You’ve always praised QB Trey Lance’s character and his professionalism. Have you seen him improve as a football player this offseason? And if so, where have you seen him take strides?
“I have, and I think we all have. A lot’s been chronicled of him working with Jeff Christensen and there’s all kinds of different gurus and specialists for these guys to go through. I was really proud Trey took the initiative. I’ve talked with Trey, I won’t get into the details because I’m not exactly sure on how it all happened, but I was proud that it was something that he sought out. I think in the past maybe Trey was working with multiple people. That’s like trying to work with multiple golf coaches. Signals can get mixed and I think he decided, ‘all right, I’ve got to find one that I vibe with the best and roll with that.’ And I think they did some great work and I think he’s throwing the football a lot better, his base better, some of his mechanics are better. Those things are showing up on the field. So, I’m not just proud of him for his attitude and his leadership, his resiliency. I’m proud for what I’m seeing out there. And I know there’s been a lot of talk about the opportunities he’s not getting. I’m proud of him for what he’s doing with the opportunities he is getting. And there’s a plan. He’ll continue to earn these opportunities and he will have plenty to show who he is. He can’t get enough, there’s no doubt about that. But we’ve got guys who’ve earned them. And the most important thing, I think back to Brock this time last year, he was only getting about three, four a day. He made them count and when you make them count, you get more. I think everybody understands that we’ve got a really good group. I like the way that group is progressing and really believe especially with Brock and the buildup program, there’s going to be days where he’s not out there. There’s going to be ample opportunities for each of these guys to show who they are. And it will even get better as we start getting into pads. And then the next step, playing pre-season games, preparing for opponents and all that.”
QB Brandon Allen has been getting reps and getting praised. Could you possibly keep four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster?
“I think four on a 53 would be very challenging. Four in the building is certainly possible. And it’s one of those things, I think we just want to throw it all out there, let things unfold, and then we’ll figure out the details as we go. We’re all product of our experiences and that experience wasn’t real cool last year. Seeing when you run out at that position, that’s not a good feeling. And so, I think we’ll be forever impacted with that going forward. And it will probably affect the way we, and we’ll be mindful. I can’t promise that because there’s other things that arise on the roster. You can try to project it as much as possible, but things always happen. Injuries happen. It’s a dynamic situation, but that’s an area where it’s important to us to be deep.”
Have other teams reached out at all about trying to get one of your four since you like four?
“Not to this point. Not to this point, but I think we’re at the point of camp where everyone’s kind of feeling out who they have and that hasn’t happened.”
One of the unknowns about Trey is that he just doesn’t have much experience. But with QB Sam Darnold, he does have 55 starts and not a lot of success. So why was he someone that you guys kind of honed in on early in free agency and wanted to join this organization?
“A lot of those things go back to when you studied him coming out of college. And we put work in on Sam, as we do with all the quarterbacks. Really liked what he brought to the table and have even seen promise. Although you said, hasn’t been a whole lot of success. We like the film, we like what he puts on tape. We wanted the opportunity to work with him. Again, a product of our experiences and wanting to be deep there. And Sam was available. Sam was interested in coming here. It was something we could financially fit in. And all these guys it’s about stacking days. Yesterday, the light bulb kind of came on. He had a really good practice and you could see things kind of slow down. You could see the talent, the big-time thrower that he can be. And that was a good day. And now if he can continue to stack that, that’s good for everyone.”
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line coach Rod Marinelli pretty much had this off the charts respect of everybody in the league. Do you see something similar with your defensive line coach Kris Kocurek with your linemen?
“Completely. Yeah, I think those are two of the best assistants I’ve ever been around. I don’t know if, every position, it’s important to have a great assistant, but there’s something about that position. I really believe it helps drive the personality of a team. I talk about it all the time, I think it’s the great equalizer in today’s football where everything’s set up for the offense to have success. If you can be dominant up front, if you can wreak havoc in the run game by penetration and just wreaking havoc, and then in the pass game by hitting the quarterback over and over and over. It’s the one way to dictate. And we’ve got a special guy. And that’s not just with the great players, the Bosa’s, the [DL Javon] Hargrave’s, it’s with everyone on the roster. And I love watching the process of every player getting better. And with Kris, those guys better be ready to work. And just like Rod, we used to call individual 20 minutes of hell. Their practice, the hardest part of practice was done after individual in Tampa. And I see something very similar with Kris. And now there’s sport science and things, there’s pulling back. But he gets guys. He’s got a unique quality because he’s so invested. And I think when you’re a coach in this league, players are going to respect you, if they believe that you can help them get where they want to get. Every player in there knows that if they buy into what Kris Kocurek’s teaching, they’re going to have an opportunity to get better. And whether it’s having success here, or a lot of people want what we have, so they’re going to start looking at the end of cuts. And we’re very fortunate and blessed to have Kris. I love what he brings to our team. I love his passion for the game. He lives it. He breathes it. I love what he does with our players. And I think it goes far beyond just the D-Line position. I think it translates to our entire team.”
What’s it going to be like with Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Ronde Barber getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend?
“Yeah, I’m so happy for Ronde Barber. I’ll never forget when I got the call that I was finally going in, I actually had some mixed emotions because I thought to myself, ‘if I’m in, I don’t know what this means for Ronde. Are they going to let four from the same defense in?’ And I think ultimately Ronde, what he did on the field, that resume was just too good. And I’m so glad and happy that the voters saw that fit because he belongs. And he was an impact. You talk about splash plays, the guy made as many as I’ve ever seen. He was always kind of had that chip on his shoulder. He was [former New York Giants RB] Tiki’s [Barber] brother. Everyone talked about Tiki. Everyone knew about Tiki. Nobody knew about the other guy. He came to our defense and we had what people referred to as the big three with [former Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT Warren] Sapp, [former Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Derrick] Brooks and Lynch. And Ronde was looking to try to fit in. And the only way he could do that was by continuing. I talked about stacking days, and he stacked days. He stacked plays, he stacked years, he did it at corner, he did it at nickel, kind of redefined the nickel position. And then late in his career, he just went and made safety look easy. Was as physically and mentally as tough a player as I’ve ever been around, couldn’t be happier. I was honored. He called last week and asked me to put the jacket on him, not be his presenter, but to put the jacket. So, I’ll be back there supporting my buddy and really proud and happy for Ronde Barber.”
With the pads coming on today, it’s a little early to zero in on specific players, but I know that you watched the DBs, that being your former position. I wanted to ask about CB D’Shawn Jamison and S Ji’Ayir Brown. What have you seen out of them so far?
“Well, starting with Ji’Ayir, we liked so much about Ji’Ayir coming out of school, very instinctive player, always in the right place with his angles. A ballhawk. Sometimes talking about Ronde Barber, we used to say the ball just comes to him. Well, Ji’Ayir, I think when you look at a guy who at junior college led the nation in interceptions and then did the same thing at Penn State, you’re doing something right. You’re putting yourself in those positions. So, I think there has been somewhat of an adjustment. I don’t want to say he’s starting slow, but just learning the volume and the way we do things, but you’re seeing it come on. And I think you’ll see a guy like Ji’Ayir Brown really shine when you start to put the pads on. We’re very pleased with his development. He’s got tremendous role models with [S] Tashaun Gipson [Sr.], [S Talanoa Hufanga] Huf, even [S] George Odum in that room. He’s really lucky and fortunate and he plays for another great coach. And [defensive backs coach Daniel] Danny Bullocks who’s really working with him. Jamison, he showed up. He showed up in a big way. And so much that he’s earned some opportunities. He’s been primarily outside. We think he has some flex inside at the nickel. He’s going to start to see more of those opportunities. And [VP of Football Communications] Corry [Rush] was telling me before, even [WR] Brandon Aiyuk was singing his praises. And that’s because it wasn’t just a flash in the pan where you’ve seen it a couple days. It was really, there were some struggles early on, as often is the case. And I think it was about the last three practices of OTAs, he started to make some plays, started to show up, and he carried it over into training camp. He changed that number. 22 looks better, whatever he was wearing in the forties. I like 47. The other numbers are hard to look good in, but those twenties tend to look better. But he’s really showing up, proud of that kid, and doing a really nice job.”
Can you tell us about WR Deebo Samuel? He said he’s in his best shape and also sent some pics to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
“Yeah, one of the things I admire so much about Kyle is, and our players know it and they crave it, he’s going to tell them the truth. And did Deebo have a bad season last year? No, he made a lot of plays. He got this stadium ignited, he got our team ignited. We have a really high standard for Deebo. Kyle’s always had. He has a high standard for everyone, being a receiver himself, a former receiver, a guy who cut his teeth coaching receivers. I think he probably has the highest standard for that room. He’s tough on those guys. And he felt like, was real with Deebo and I applaud Deebo for not fighting that. It would be really easy to talk about his Madden rating or how popular of a player. Instead, he took a hard look at it and said, you know what? He’s right. He got himself in tremendous shape. You see it out there. And it’s not just an aesthetic thing where he’s sending nice pictures. The most important thing it’s translating on the field and it’s going to allow him to have success not only this year, but long-term. The guys that work and outwork their competition, they tend to succeed. Talent can only go so far. Deebo is a unique player, plays with a unique will and spirit. Really proud of him, the work he put in, and it’s going to pay dividends for him and for our team.”
Where do you see your two third-round picks from last year, WR Danny Gray and RB Ty Davis-Price and their development?
“Develop is the key word. I think last year they had their struggles. To start with Danny, Danny brings something that every team covets, that we especially covet at the wide receiver position, and that’s speed. And it’s their impact on the field, their impact, sometimes opening up other people. The other thing we saw with Danny was a really tough football player. Not just a guy who’s going to clear people out, catch deep balls. He caught a lot of screen-type plays at SMU that showed he wasn’t afraid to get dirty. Now there was, like I said, receiver’s a tough position to play here. We split the guys all over. We ask them to multi-align, we motion them. So, I think that can slow some players down early. And I think there’s been an adjustment period for Danny. The one thing I’ll say, whenever he’s gone in there [wide receivers coach Leonard Hankerson] Hank has a saying, ‘no block, no rock.’ Danny’s always shown a want to go make those blocks and things. Now he’s taking his game to the next level and we’re starting to see it. I know he gets frustrated because he feels like he can run and if they can just get it out there, he can run by anyone. But he’s doing his job over and over and my experience in the league, when you’re doing it over and over and doing things the right way, it will start to show up on the field. And we’re starting to see glimpses. I’m really proud of the development and the job that Hank as we call him, Leonard Hankerson, has done with him. Ty Davis-Price, he’s really come a long way. Again, plays for two tough coaches in [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Anthony Lynn and [running backs coach] Bobby Turner who have a high standard. That room has a high standard. And at times last year, it just didn’t feel like it was the guy we watched in college. But man, it’s been a complete turnaround. [John Lynch’s wife] Linda Lynch made me get back on my fitness. I’ve been coming in at five. I was in here the other day and there was one guy in the locker room, it was Ty Davis-Price. I don’t know what the hell he was doing here at 5:00 am but he was here and you’re seeing it on the field. He’s hitting the hole. He’s hitting it with the aggressiveness and that downhill style that we like and he’s made himself a better receiver in the pass game. He’s made himself a better blocker in the run game. And Ty’s the type of player who’s going to shine more when the pads come on because he plays with a tremendous physicality. So really proud of those two young men. But it doesn’t stop now. They’ve got to continue stacking days, but I really like the early returns on both of those guys.”