The criticism of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan for failing to take time outs at the end of the first half of Super Bowl LIV has been fueled by the fact that the General Manager of the 49ers seemed to agree with the critics.
In the midst of the tiiiick . . . tick-tick-tick . . . tiiiick of the moments, cameras owned and operated by John Lynch’s most recent former employer showed him making a timeout signal with his hands. On Thursday, sitting elbow to elbow with Shanahan, Lynch explained his actions.
“I think it’s just as if I was a player looking at the sidelines saying, ‘Timeout, timeout,'” Lynch told reporters. “I was thrilled for our guys. I get excited watching these games. Not much I can do up there, but I’ve got these guys’ backs. It’s not my role to do time management. I don’t focus a lot on it. I was proud of our guys getting a big stop. That was my initial reaction.”
That makes sense. But then Lynch kept going, and his next comments did little to extinguish the notion that the timeouts should have been used.
“Paraag [Marathe] does study a lot of time management,” Lynch said. “I’m also asking him, ‘Should we get the timeout?’ That’s all it was.”
In other words, Marathe’s response apparently was, “Yes.” Otherwise, Lynch doesn’t make the timeout signal.
“It was quickly erased when they almost pinned us at the half-yard line [on a punt],” Lynch added, and Shanahan separately explained that concern over getting pinned contributed to the decision to let the clock run. “Kyle knows that. I watch the game with emotion because I care. That’s all that was.”
Lynch definitely cares about the outcome. He had been 1-0 in Super Bowl experiences. He’s now 1-1.
“It stinks, you know, it really does,” Lynch said. “I think having it in your grasp and you’ve got such a group of men, a locker room, that just cares. They care about each other, they have each other’s back. We’ve answered seemingly, we didn’t win every game, it wasn’t perfect, but we answered every call. To not finish the deal, it hurts. That will stick with us for a lifetime. But to me it’s about what you do going forward. I think the one thing I would say, too, for all the negativity, or perceived negativity, I also know that I got off the plane, I went to my daughter’s basketball game, I can’t tell you how many people came up and said, ‘Thank you.’ To all the people out there that appreciate that, appreciate the effort of the team, Kyle and his staff, we are appreciative. I think a big part of the turnaround, getting to the Super Bowl, now our goal was to win the Super Bowl, we all know that, but just the feeling that has on this community, the Faithful, the fans, when we go on the road, at home, having the excitement back in here in Levi’s, a lot of positive things transpired. We can’t forget about that.”
There’s no reason to think there won’t be more positive things in 2020. But getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it won’t be easy. The 49ers will have a big target on their backs this year, and they have to contend with the Seahawks, Rams, and an improving Cardinals team in their own division. Besides, only one team has lost the Super Bowl and then won the next one since the 1971-72 Dolphins. And that was the 2017-18 Patriots.