John Lynch says football is supposed to unite players, and sideline protests are ‘divisive.’

General manager John Lynch watches the 49ers practice


This is the transcript of John Lynch’s Wednesday press conference, courtesy of the 49ers P.R. department.


Opening comments:

“Hey guys, just a couple of procedural things. I just wanted to give you guys some information. I know everybody here saw [LB] Donavin Newsom last week with the scary situation and he’s doing better each day. We’re going to put him on Injured Reserve. It will come across the wire procedurally as a waived-injured, but he’s going to be on Injured Reserve. And talking with our doctors, he got great care up here at Stanford. It’s the best thing for the kid. Give him time to really get right. So, had a good talk with him this morning, but just wanted to point that out. I thought it was great work for both sides out here today, really productive. I think both coaches handled their teams really well. Had one little scuffle, but I’ve never seen one of these joint practices where you haven’t. But, I thought it was very professional on both sides. Really productive work and we were thrilled with it.”


What did you find yourself watching most closely? What units did you want to see?

“Well, I tried to perch myself right there in the middle and it was like watching a tennis match going back and forth. So, tried to watch as much as possible. And really, I know that’s a playoff-caliber team, so you want to see how are we measuring up? It’s a practice, but I was proud of the way our guys competed on both sides of the field and on special teams. It’s a great measuring stick and it’s a great opportunity for our team to go up against one of the deeper rosters in football and see how we stack up.”


Did you guys do anything disciplinary-wise with DB Adrian Colbert?

“I thought our coaches handled it really well. First of all, I’ll just say, Adrian is a tremendous kid and I went over there and said, ‘Adrian, that’s not how we practice and we talked about how we were going to conduct ourselves.’ He just said, ‘Hey, I just lost my head. I was tracking the ball, next thing you know he was there.’ And, I can’t tell you that I haven’t been there myself. We kind of sat him out for a little, let things cool down, and then he went out to practice. Talked to [Denver Broncos head coach] Vance [ Joseph] and talked to [Denver Broncos president of football operations/general manager] John [Elway] and everything was good.”


What do you get out of a joint practice compared to a normal practice or compared to a preseason game?

“I think what you get out of it, first of all, I think players get excited. And again, the juices get flowing a little bit. But, when you practice against each other all the time, our defensive players are calling out our offensive plays. You get to know, you know the audibles, and so you’re going up against something where it’s not scripted. It’s completely unscripted. You don’t know everything that they’re doing. It’s just true competition. It really is as close to a game as possible. John and I were talking about it, [New England Patriots head coach Bill] Belichick has done three this year. We weren’t at that point. We had to install a lot of things. But in the future, I don’t think you can get enough of this if you can handle it like that. If it becomes a melee, it becomes very unproductive. I really commend both coaches for getting their teams right because when it is right, it’s the best thing you can do.”


With how good that defense is, how did you think your, particularly your first team offense, went up against that defense?

“It looked good. It’s practice. We’ll go back and watch the film, but it looked good. I do have so much respect for those players there and the way they play. I think it’s just, for [OL] Trent Brown to go up against [OLB] Von Miller, for [T] Joe Staley to go up against those guys, like I said, it’s a top-flight, and particularly that unit, that’s as good as it gets in this league. So, a great opportunity. It looked good. It looked competitive.”


Do you have an opportunity to talk to John about, ‘Hey, look, these, this list of guys on our team should be on an NFL roster and it might not be here.’ Do you have a list or do you guys kind of talk it through?

“Well, that’s going on in the league. It’s kind of that time of year, where people are calling and saying, ‘Hey, you’re strong here, we’re strong here. Let’s just kind of keep these things in mind.’ And, this is a great opportunity to do that. So, we did have some of those discussions. The greatest thing is lots of times you’re throwing on a preseason game. We get a chance for three days to look at some people we might be interested in. So, you’re always doing that. I think they’re doing that as well and it’s another productive thing out of this week.”


You saw a lot of Broncos quarterbacks in the preseason last year, Denver Broncos QB Trevor Siemian and Denver Broncos QB Paxton Lynch. What did you think of how they looked out there today?

“Well, I think highly of both those guys. I know they are having their battle. I think Paxton has those ‘wow’ throws, but then it’s just the consistency. Trevor is extremely consistent. So, I think the only way is just to let that paly out and see who kind of rises to the top there and that’s what they’re doing. I have great respect for both of them and be interesting to see it play out.”


You were open and equal about talking about moving TE Vance McDonald. Where do things stand now? Is that still kind of an open possibility?

“I think what I’ve been thoroughly impressed, as has [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and everybody around here, how Vance has responded to that. I thought last week against Kansas City was a great example. Even though it didn’t show up on the stat sheet, it’s as good as I’ve seen him block, and he did it consistently and he competed extremely hard. And so, we were very proud of Vance. Kyle talks a lot about that. There’s no absolutes and at the time that’s the way we were thinking, but he’s come back and shown us all a lot. He’s competing in a very competitive room. I think that’s a room where someone is going to have to separate themselves. He’s a big part of that. So, we’re very pleased with him right now.”


Did LB Reuben Foster leave practice early?

“You know, [vice president of communications] Bob [Lange] told me that there was something. But, I talked to him and like Reuben, big smile, said, ‘I’m straight.’ And, so he’s good. He’s straight.”


So, it’s not serious?

“No, he’s good.”


Back in January, before things developed between you and Kyle here, did you have any impressions that Kyle may end up in Denver just because of the ties?

“I knew John interviewed him and was thoroughly impressed with him. And, I know that was a tough call. John’s very pleased with Vance, but came away just thoroughly impressed with Kyle. And so, obviously quite a familiarity with the family, but really came away, just like I did, impressed with Kyle. So, it’s neat to see it work out for everyone.”


Do you continue to be encouraged by QB Brian Hoyer?

“Yeah. Brian, we’ve said from the beginning we want a franchise quarterback around here and a lot of people are making assumptions as to what Brian’s role is. Is he a bridge? Is he all those things? Our response to Brian and to everybody is he’s got the first crack of being that guy. And I love the way he’s embracing that opportunity each and every day and really has been a tremendous leader for our group. I think, probably exceeded my expectations of how I thought he could play. And, I think the same for Kyle. It’s been very, very good. We’ve only played one preseason game and we’ve got to continue to let it develop. But, he’s taking this opportunity and I think doing a tremendous job with it.”


Silent protests, sideline protests are back in the news now and it looks like they are not going away anytime soon. If it happens here amongst some of your players as it did here last year, how do you feel about that? Do you support it? Do you tolerate it? Do you have concerns with it?

“You know, I’ve got my own feelings about it. I think my strongest feeling, we had a great deal the other day where we had four chairs up here and there was [former San Francisco 49ers QB] Steve Young and [former San Francisco 49ers WR] Jerry Rice. They talked about the ‘49er Way,’ and I always thought it’s one of the great things about this league. In fact, I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of culture in terms of the way it should be. You strive for a common goal and you have unity. And I think this game brings people together. So, I think personally, when I see that I think that’s divisive. And, I understand guys see things that they’re not happy and they have that right and I think we’ll always respect people’s rights. That doesn’t mean I believe that. I believe that this game should actually be celebrated for what it is. I think a tremendous unifier for our country and for what, you know, the way things should be. [Former San Francisco 49ers head coach] Bill Walsh used to speak about it. You take guys from all over the country, different socioeconomic backgrounds, racial backgrounds, and you have friends for life. [NFL Hall of Fame DT] Warren Sapp is here today working with our defensive line because he’s a buddy of mine and always will be. Those types of story, I think, get lost in something like this, but they’ve got their reasons and we’ll always be respectful of those.”


Does what you just said mean that you would talk to those players about that or do you just allow them as men to–?

“Yeah, I think that we’ll always communicate. We think over communicating is a good thing. We haven’t faced that situation. If we do, we’ll communicate.”


You were talking about Jerry Rice and Steve Young being here. You guys have talked a lot about reestablishing culture as opposed to maybe building a culture. How are those two things different and how do you kind of try to dig into the past while also evolving?

“Well, yes, that’s a great question because I tell our guys all the time when we do things like this, that’s what it is. It’s almost like a cheat sheet. This is the way it should be. And, these guys know when we walk by those Super Bowl trophies that they don’t come free. You’ve got to go earn them, but why not take advantage of guys like that and why not invite them. And if Jerry Rice wants to practice, go ahead and practice. That’s good for us. And Steve Young up here, I’ve always respected Steve. But, the stories they told, I think, better than we ever could, they told them what the 49er Way is and it was awesome. I was sitting up here watching, I was proud of our guys because they were just spellbound on these guys. And so, why not take advantage. Denver every day gets to look at John Elway and he’s a big part of their history. So, why not embrace that and it’s something we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do.”


Would we see you put on the cleats and give Hoyer–?

“You don’t want to see that. I thought Jerry, I saw him about halfway through start stretching those hamstring. I thought we were about to blow a hamstring, but he is Jerry Rice. He looked pretty good.”

This article has 20 Comments

  1. Lynch may want to call what Kaep did as divisive, but he also won the Len Eshmont award which recognizes leadership and courage.
    Yes, back in the days of Rice and Lott, the black players were not politically active because they were just glad to have an opportunity to succeed. However, players nowadays are standing on the shoulders of those giants, and can achieve so much more.
    They are looked up to, so they can affect change in so many positive ways.
    Lynch may not agree, but it sounds like he is pulling a Baalke, and letting his emotions cloud his judgement. He should look hard at the situation, and realize that protests against police brutality is a noble cause, no matter what the symbolism involved. Those Vietnam War protesters burned the flag because they did not want to continue the nightmare, and wanted to show the world that some Americans had the guts to stand up against an unjust war. Burning the flag symbolized what they thought the US government was doing to the honor of the country, when atrocities like My Lai were committed in their name. Yes, some reactionaries hated the Anti War activists for doing that, but it was their courage under fire that stopped the war.I remember Kent State, and honor their bravery and sacrifice.
    Here we have Kaep, and now many others, exercising their First Amendment rights, in a silent, respectful and non violent protest. That is way preferable to the protest violence seen in Charlottesville.
    Divisive? No, no, that is our fake president supporting the KKK, Neo Nazis and alt right.

    1. Ironically, Kaep’s Len Eshmont award proves how divisive our former QB was. How, you ask is that divisive, you ask? For years, Kaep was known as the loner who sat in his own corner with his headphones. Then, he became upset about police officers harassing African Americans. Though most of his teammates expressed Kaep’s kneeling protest was courageous, only 2 to 3 other players would join him. My guess, most of Kaep’s Len Eshmont award votes were tribal support. Latest estimates, 70% of NFL players are black. This is how Kaep won the award and why no one on the team can dare say anything other than: “his kneeling brought us all closer together.” Nonetheless, his protest was huge distraction and hugely divisive. This is likely why Joe Stately recently said, “I like being around players who are all about football all the time.” And, this is why Kaep is not on a team. No one wants that divisiveness from a backup QB whose talent on the steep descent.

      1. Being voted as the winner of the Len Eshmont award is hardly proof that he was not devisive. Trump was voted president (ike him or hate him) and I don’t think anyone would argue that isn’t devisive.

        Secondly, taking a courageous stance almost always devisive, if everyone agreed with you it wouldn’t be courageous. And that is exactly what the Len Eshmont award is for… as its given to the athlete who best exemplifies the “inspirational and courageous play” of Len Eshmont.

        The bigger question is does it cause the team to play at a lesser level because of it or not? For me personally I don’t think it would, as I think players can easily focus on their job in practice and when studying the playbook, and it would only be an issue when answering press related questions. But their are others who might see it as a distraction and something that would cause them not to perform at optimum levels.

      2. If Staley wants a player to focus 100% on football, he should not look to Hoyer. Hoyer himself said that he reads books to keep his mind sharp. That does not sound like he is reading only books about football, but was trying to counter the effects of all the concussions he has endured.
        Repeating the screed about Kaep being a loner who sat in his corner with his headphones will not make those assertions true. Others have said that Kaep was friendly and engaged, just like any good team mate should be.
        Sounds like you are profiling blacks again. They do make up 70% of the teams, but assuming 100% of the white players voted against him is just speculation, while ignoring the fact that many black players have strong ties to the military.
        Yes, Kaep as the starting QB, won the Len Eshmont Award for leadership. He also won it for showing courage. The other players heard the fans taunting and insulting Kaep, and know that it takes a lot of courage to act against injustice while receiving racial epithets and death threats.

  2. John Lynch and KS are following in the footsteps of a legend. Bill Walsh was a pioneer in the advocacy of employing minority coaches and front office personnel. Bill Walsh was instrumental in providing opportunities for Coaches like Dennis Green, Tony Dungy, Ray Rhodes and many others.
    JL and KS should be commended for striving for diversity, when they asked Katie Sowers to stay as a Niner coach.
    I am sure there is a lot of pushback in the very conservative NFL. Heaven’s forbid, a WOMAN coach?
    Sometimes, taking an unpopular stand is just the right thing to do, and it is courageous, to boot. Bill Walsh led the way, and he would proud of JL and KS, and their ground breaking hire.
    Sure, Bill Walsh was all football,but he was way more than that. He could see the whole picture. That is why he traded for Steve Young. He could see the advantages of having a fast, elusive dual threat QB. That is why the wave of the future will include mobile QBs, and the classic pocket passer will eventually die out. The reason being, the size and speed of the most recent NFL pass rushers, will create lots of attrition.
    KS says that he does not like scramblers, and just wants them to play football. Maybe he should watch what Boykin did. He ran past the pass rushers like they were standing still, for big gains. He had pinpoint accuracy. He easily eluded the pass rush, and was basically unstoppable. He is a mobile QB who is also an accurate QB, and he really knows how to play football.

  3. My right to not watch 1 snap of any nfl game continues this season. I won’t wear any of my many 49ERS stuff. I love football. I’ll respect anyone’s rights. I love my USA. I served, and didn’t have the choice to protest anything, while protecting yours! Sad millionaire’s can stand against our Country’s Anthem, while still getting paid. My words, my beliefs, matter to me.

    1. I think your fight is elsewhere. Don’t let the actions of a select few, agree or disagree with them, deter you from enjoying the game. If it helps, tune in 5 minutes late to every broadcast, post national anthem and you’ll only see 2 teams playing (and a lot of shots of coaches and players standing around between plays because for some reason tv directors think thats what we want to see).

      1. I never watch or listen to the Star Spangle Banner because I do not like how some butcher the song. After Whitney Houston’s rendition, all others pale in comparison.
        Some fans admit to going to the bathroom because it would be relatively uncrowded during the singing of the National Anthem. Hmmm, maybe they are being unpatriotic.
        After the first game, the networks did not ever show Kaep protesting, so his protest did not affect the subsequent game at all.

    2. Good for you. I hope you enjoy not watching football. The NFL will blackball a player exercising his First Amendment rights, yet allows a player to strike his pregnant gf in the stomach, They draft in the second round a player who struck a woman so hard, he knocked her out and broke her jaw. I looked at those bruises, yet some player is whining about being banned for 6 games.Those are the players who are driving more people away. The NFL is not helping by going Reefer Madness, and shed crocodile tears about concussions, then schedule Thursday Night Games for profit while forcing the teams to play with only 3 days rest..
      I also think you are blackmailing the league by threatening to not watch, while still watching because you are writing on a football blog site. Sounds like you are still involved in football.
      Protecting? That is the whole problem. Rogue cops are profiling minorities, and electing themselves judge, jury and executioner. Kaep is standing up against injustice, while you seem to want to support rogue cops who shoot unarmed civilians, both black and white, with little consequences or repercussions. We need protection from cops who should be protecting everyone. I, too, love America, and think it could be even better.
      Yes, protesting by non violently and silently kneeling may upset you, but I have revulsion towards ‘protesters’ who plow cars into crowds.
      There is much hypocrisy when some one thinks the Flag is sacrosanct, and pledges allegiance to it, then forgets the last six words- With liberty and justice for all.

  4. Not sure who writes these headlines but I think the headline to this blog post is exactly what’s wrong with the media today. Lynch covered several really good topics from the 49er Way to Brian Hoyer to Reuben Foster and what is the headline??? A single sentence that was really about unity being part of the 49er Way but it touched on the potential for protests to be divisive. I know you guys word headlines for maximum clicks but Jesus H Christ give this crap a rest. It’s tiresome. How about we let football be about football and not every social ill in the world.

      1. This is relevant, and should not be ignored, because he is in the news. Do not shoot the messenger, he is just doing his job.

  5. Call me old school, but when I am at work the company owns my time- I have a family to feed. I have plenty of off time to be on Boards, run for local govt., volunteer to charitable causes, write blogs and generally express myself, my cause or values without impacting my employer. After all I exist for the service to my employer.

    1. Mitey Sad.

      After all I exist for the service to my employer.

      Are you saying you are a slave or are you mocking black people???
      Either way, old school sounds sad.

  6. Dust Mite,

    You’re absolutely right. When you’re receiving a paycheck you owe your allegiance to the person or company signing the check. If you have personal disagreement or want to take a political stand do it on your own time or find somewhere else to work. I once left a very lucrative job because I disagreed with the employer’s public and political position. It wasn’t my place to speak out in opposition to the company while being paid by them. Race and/or slavery has nothing to do with it. How can it be slavery when you can walk away whenever you want?


    1. Does your servitude exclude you from seeing and saying wrong from right?
      Does servitude exclude cops from speaking up when atrocities are committed?
      If cops had a moral compass to serve and protect , these coverups would not exist!

  7. sebnynah says:
    August 16, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Lynch may want to call what Kaep did as divisive…….


    Hoyer’s been in Shanahan’s system and knows it verbatim. Kap’s starting over as an old man.

    You are the D_E_V_I_S_I_V_E poster. GET OVER IT. Kap’s an old man trying to learn a new offense. Go buy some Geritol and alzheimers meds so you can quit toddling over to your laptop parroting the same “Kap still has it” pablum.

    He’s a washed up has been as are your Kap posts…..Beat it ‘Sir Lose A lot.’

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