Why John Lynch expects the 49ers defense to be better in Super Bowl 58 – NBC Sports Bay Area & California
SANTA CLARA — General manager John Lynch knows what a Super Bowl-winning defense looks like and the 49ers didn’t embody that consistently in their win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship game last Sunday.
“Effort is non-negotiable,” Lynch said sternly on Friday. “That’s one of our core values. And I think I have hearts in my heart. We have four Hall of Famers that represent the defense that I played with in Tampa, and if you ask every one of us that played in that defense what our calling card is and it starts with effort, that’s unthinkable.” To negotiate.
In the second quarter of the NFC title game, Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs ran past several 49ers defenders for a 15-yard touchdown, extending Detroit’s lead to 14 points. While several players rushed toward the ball carrier, no one barely touched him as he crossed the goal line.
“These matters have been addressed,” Lynch said. “You’ve got one game. I’d be really shocked if we saw that again. Sometimes that comes up – there are excuses for it, but it’s just that. They’re excuses and they should be non-negotiable. Play with your heart out.”
The 49ers regrouped in the locker room in the first half, and played well enough in the second half to earn a trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilkes made minor adjustments but in the end his players came out with more intent.
“Collectively, as a team, I can tell you as a defense, it was unacceptable,” Wilkes said regarding the first half. “We talked about it. We have to make sure we play every game like it’s going to make the difference in the ballgame.
Lynch and Wilkes are clearly on the same page regarding a defense not playing to its full potential. They also know there will be no margin for error when they face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on February 11.
“These aren’t plays we’re proud of, these players are proud of,” Lynch said. “The matter has been addressed, and I would be really surprised if we see it again.”
With Patrick Mahomes leading the Chiefs, the 49ers’ defense has a tough task ahead of it. Not only will they need to limit All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, but slowing down running back Isaiah Pacheco, who also poses a threat as a wide receiver, is essential.
Wilks believes there has been enough talk about the past and looks forward to a clean slate with players realizing they cannot let their foot off the gas in their final game of the season.
“You could see on those two plays in particular that it wasn’t up to our standards,” Wilkes said. “These guys understand and know that, and quite frankly, it was embarrassing.”
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