General Manager John Lynch Press Conference

General Manager John Lynch

Conference Call – September 1, 2021

San Francisco 49ers

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 Opening comments:

“I wanted to start real quick and then I’ll open it up for questions. I just wanted to start. I haven’t had a chance to comment on the news with [linebackers coach] Johnny Holland. And I just want to thank everyone with our organization. I want to thank Johnny and Faith and their family for handling this so well. And just also mention it’s more than just wearing a t-shirt. We talk about being a family here and I think in moments like this it makes me proud to see that we act like one. Johnny is an incredible person, one of the best people I’ve met in life, let alone football. And if anyone has the fortitude and mental toughness and faith, all that to take on something like this, it’s Johnny. And so, we’re pulling for him. We do have his back and I just wanted to start with that. With that, I know it’s a big day in terms of the roster being set and I’ll open it up for any questions.”

What’s your plan at punt returner?

“Well, we have a plan and there’s a number of guys who’ve been working on that during the preseason. We feel quite good about our plan. I will say that they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Well, I think in this business, so is getting your players poached off the waiver wire. And that happened. [Chicago Bears WR] Nsimba Webster is a guy who does do that, and also had some value as a receiver and special teams. But you know, we’ve got a plan there and I’ll leave that to Kyle to kind of announce who it is and what it is and the depth there and all that when he chooses to. But we’ve thought about that a lot. That’s important to us. We want to make that an asset for this team, and I feel very strongly about it.”

When it comes to WR Jalen Hurd making the roster yesterday, how much of that was based on what you saw last week in practices and in the game, but how much more of that is still just projection with Jalen?

“I think there’s some level of projection. I think a couple of situations, his probably being a little different than [S] Jaquiski Tartt because Tartt’s played for us before. Jalen has some special skills, some unique skills and has a variety of them. He’s got a lot of versatility to his game. He knows it, we know it. You have to show that you can be dependable, that you can be out there. Do we feel 100-percent iron clad that he’s proven that he’s that in the short amount of time that he’s been out there? No, but we feel like the talent that he brings. And it’s not just talent. He also brings a physicality and an attitude that he plays with that I believe is really contagious to our team. And so, again, you have backup plans for everything, but we want to enter this year with Jalen there and we’ll see how that goes.”

How much does the expanded practice squad being back and the different rules and all that maybe influence the way you build out your roster and how much do you take that into account when doing it?

“Yeah. Well first, I hope that we keep this moving forward. I’ve always believed that the rosters, particularly moving into a 17-game season, concussion protocols and things that are good, that are positive. But I think we should also make the requisite changes in our roster to reflect those realities. And so, I think that’s a step towards it because as I tell our guys who are on our practice squad, it’s really an extension of our 53-man roster. You know, we really look at it as a 69-man roster, this year 70 because we’ve got [OL] Alfredo [Gutierrez] and we’re fired up to have him and he’s a legit player and he’s a guy we’re excited about working with. So, how does it affect, it certainly does. I think you can, first of all, when it just comes to the practice squad typically you had to be a team that either emphasized true developmental players that may have a ways to go, or guys kind of in the bullpen, ready to go if called upon right away. I think now you can achieve both. And that’s what we’ve tried to do with our practice squad. It’s still in the process of being built out. But we like what we have right now and we feel like we can continue to get a little stronger here in the next couple of days.”

What is the injury with CB Davontae Harris and did that, just as far as the timing, did that happen very recently? Why was he initially signed and then on IR today?

“Yeah, Davontae tweaked his hamstring about 10 days ago. He was coming back and ramping it up and re-tweaked it. And so, we have officially put him on IR. That gives him the ability, it makes him eligible to return after three games and we’ll monitor that. Davontae did a nice job in a short amount of time of impressing us. Think he adds depth at the cornerback position. He’s also a very talented special teams player and he showed that in a very short window, but he’s also shown that throughout his time in the league. So, we’ll put him on the Injured Reserve. He’s working hard to get back and get healthy and then we can make a decision and he will be eligible to return after three games if we make him as such.”

Can you discuss the backup safety position? You guys keep S Tavon Wilson, waive S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Did you guys try to get Clinton-Dix back on the practice squad? What was kind of the situation there with the backup spots?

“Yeah, that was a tough call because you know we really, we were hopeful all along that Jaquiski would come back. Circumstances dictated that it happened much later than we wanted it to to give us clarity. And Tartt got out and showed well, and we’ve got some comfort, some institutional knowledge with Jaquiski, know who he is and what he brings to the table. Having said that, Tavon and Ha Ha both brought, a really cool veteran presence. I always think it’s a good thing to mix youth like a kid like [S Talanoa] Hufanga with some veteran savvy and I think Tavon and Ha Ha both provided that. Tavon has been here throughout the offseason. Tavon is a really good special teams player. He also has versatility at both strong and free. Ha Ha came in late, but really showed himself in a great fashion and he’s a popular player in this locker room. So, we’re still in conversations with Ha Ha about joining our practice squad and we’ll see where that goes. But that was definitely a tough decision, because he put his best foot forward and I think played at a high level to make it a tough decision. But we just felt comfortable with the way we did it and we’re hopeful that he joins us again.”

Tennessee Titans TE MyCole Pruitt, you guys guaranteed him a fairly decent amount of money and it seemed like he could make it as that fourth blocking tight end again. That didn’t work out. What sort of happened there and why didn’t that work out?

“Yeah, I think there’s just dynamics to your roster and that’s always decision. We kind of let that kind of work itself out. The way it worked out, I think what hurt MyCole is he had that calf injury. And so, he never really got an opportunity to show what he could do for us. And when he did, I think he was still getting his legs underneath him. At that time, we made a decision, probably when you go heavy at other positions you’ve got to pull from somewhere and we do keep a fullback.  And so, while we have kept four tight ends before we just felt it was in our best interest to keep three on our roster and MyCole had some opportunities elsewhere as we thought he might. And sometimes that happens and we’re pulling for him to have a quality year wherever he ends up.”

Can you explain what OL Tom Compton showed you to keep him over someone younger, such as OL Colton McKivitz?

“Well, fortunately we got the best of both worlds there. I think Tom, first of all, his second year with us I think showed a lot better in camp, showed his versatility. He’s a guy who can play guard and tackle and he can play really all the positions. And so, we felt Tom had a good camp and earned the right. And Colton is a player we’re still extremely interested in working with. He’s got a lot in his body, we just kind of have to unleash it and I think the practice squad is a perfect vehicle to do that. So fortunately it worked out for us and we’ve got both of them there and we’re happy about that.”

There was a report of two guys being signed to or agreeing to terms to your practice squad, TE Tanner Hudson and CB Dee Virgin. Can you corroborate that and if so what kind of stood out with both of those guys to you?

“Yeah, they’re not signed just yet, they’re agreed and traveling in and have to get physicals. [TE] Jordan Matthews is on our practice squad. We didn’t plan on having another tight end being a part of that, but had some discussions with Tanner. He’s a guy we’ve had our eye on for a while. I think there was a lot of conjecture that he would make Tampa’s 53. When he didn’t, we took a shot at it and we were able to get him to come with us. So, we’re excited about that. And then with Dee Virgin, Dee’s just a guy who’s played at corner, nickel, inside, outside, and then also is a very good special teams player and wanted to add him to our practice squad. We’re thrilled to, pending their physicals, have both those guys with us.”

 A bit of a housekeeping question, but with WR Richie James, I know he was waived/injured last week. Sometimes, or usually those guys, if they don’t get claimed they revert to IR. It didn’t look like, at least on the wire, that has happened yet? Can you just clarify what his status is with the team right now?

“Yeah, he is on IR. I don’t know if that’s become official, but he certainly will go there. You’re right, after not having been claimed. He’s having a surgical procedure on his knee and it’ll be a certain amount of time. So, we’ll see where that goes based on the reports after the surgery, but he is on IR.”

Just to follow up on that, is he completely out for the season or is there a procedure by which he can somehow come back late in the year?

“You know, I think that remains to be seen. And they’re still working through all those details. He has not had the surgery as of yet. So, right now he’s on the Injured Reserve and we’re still kind of tuning in. We’ll let you know when we know.”

Is there any change in QB Trey Lance’s prognosis? Is it still looking like he could come back and practice on Monday?

“Yeah, I think it’s trending in the right direction. Some of the swelling’s coming down. Monday is kind of the optimistic look at it and I can promise you this, we’ll do right by Trey and have him in a good place before he’s back out there. But we certainly would love to have him available on Monday. I can promise you this with Trey as well, he does everything he can to get well and he’s working hard at that right now.”

Compared to the group that you had in 2017, the wide receivers are approximately three and a half inches taller as a whole then they were back then. I know you always go for players that can actually play, but is also kind of gaining size in the wide receiver group one of the things that you looked for when you were going through the whole process?

“I think you always evolve as a group and you kind of learn together and I do think that is something right now in football. Power, being a powerful player at whatever position is really important. And I just think at receiver there’s a trend in the league, despite all the rules, when can you do your work because of the five-yard rule where you can have contact, everybody tries to get really physical within those five yards. And so, you better have the strength necessary to pull away from people. And we probably focused on separators early on, but if they don’t have that requisite power that’s difficult. And there’s trends that change in the game. And I think we try to adapt. Now having said that, I think now what we love is strong, physical, powerful players who can also separate. And so that’s what we’ve tried to achieve. I know a lot’s been said about this group, but I really like what this group can become. They have to go do it, but I think we can play a lot of different styles with this group. We can play bully ball and get after you, but these guys are also guys who there’s speed in there, there’s playmakers in there. So, I like the versatility of the group and I’m excited about where we are heading into the season.”