49ers

On the walls of John Lynch's office

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AP

On the walls of John Lynch's office

SANTA CLARA -- John Lynch’s office is on the second floor of the 49ers’ team offices with glass doors that lead to large balcony that overlooks the practice fields.

Lynch oversees the entire 49ers football operation from this vantage point.

On Wednesday, he spoke on “The 49ers Insider Podcast” about the significance of the items he has placed on the walls and shelves of his office.

From his desk, looking straight across to the room, is a photo of his four children, taken at Levi’s Stadium on the family’s first trip to Santa Clara after he was named general manager.

The family remained in San Diego during a busy offseason that included finalizing a 53-man roster that includes 31 players acquired since he took charge of the team's player personnel.

“You always want to be with your family,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot to be done, so when they’re not here, I just work.”

His son, Jake, was going to transfer to the Bay Area for his senior year of high school. Instead, he will remain at Cathedral Catholic, where he plays linebacker on a team that went 15-0 last season and won the Division I-AA California state championship.

“His guys had an intervention with him down there,” Lynch said. “One guy took him out, and the next thing you know, the whole team was there, saying, ‘You can’t leave.’ He decided to stay down for the first semester.”

It should be noted that Lynch’s 9-year-old daughter, Leah, warmed quickly to the idea of her father working for the 49ers. She is wearing a red 49ers T-shirt in the picture. She was the biggest critic of her father’s move to join a team that went 2-14 last season.

Said Lynch, “I think her thing was, ‘How’s this a good thing, Dad? The 49ers are horrible.’ With kids, you’re going to get the real deal.”

On a shelf behind Lynch’s desk is a football he acquired at an auction during Winter Fest, a fundraiser for the 49ers Foundation. Dwight Clark personally drew the X’s and O’s of “sprint right option” – the play on which he made “The Catch.”

“Dwight Clark’s fight with ALS is close to everyone because of what Dwight stands for, but close to me because I lost my mother in law a couple of years ago to ALS, so we’ve been involved in that fight,” Lynch said.

“First off, it’s really cool. It’s a diagram of 'The Catch' and signed by Dwight on a ball. But (the proceeds) also went to Dwight’s cause and his fight.”

Next to the football is a photo of Lynch and Ronnie Lott, then with the New York Jets, after a preseason game in 1995. Lynch was entering his second NFL season and his first as a starter. Lynch still remembers what Lott told him that night.

“I’d just become a starter,” Lynch said. “(Lott) said, ‘I watched some of your film from the end of last year. … You’re going to play at a high level in this league. You’re going to be a star.’ Hearing that from Ronnie Lott gave me everything I needed to be excited.”

Another item of particular significance is a small bronze plaque that his father gave him. It reads: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.”

CEO Jed York hired coach Kyle Shanahan and Lynch as a team, and awarded them with six-year contracts to figure things out and work together over the long term. The 49ers have been torn apart in recent years by the inability of general manager Trent Baalke and the head coaches to work together. Lynch said he believes the relationship with Shanahan will remain secure in good times and bad. 

“I’ve got no doubt that it will just because the foundation is so strong,” Lynch said. “And the other thing we genuinely like being around each other. I kind of dig what I learn from him about football. I think he feels the same way. We’ve got similar philosophies on success and just how you deal with things.

“At the same time, we aren’t exactly identical and we challenge each other. And we’re not afraid to challenge each other. That’s a good thing. It’s worked really well. We haven’t played a game, yet, though. We understand that. We’re looking very much forward to kicking it off against Carolina this Sunday, though.”

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

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USATSI

Inactives: 49ers third-round pick yet to make his debut

As the 49ers take on the Rams on Thursday Night Football, the team will be without five defenders and two from offense. 

Ahkello Witherspoon, who the team drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, will have to wait to make his debut another week. 

Below is the full list of inactives from Insider Matt Maiocco. 

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

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AP

49ers building defensive identity: 'We can help ourselves a lot by...'

SANTA CLARA – After spending the past three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, inside linebacker Brock Coyle knows how it is supposed to look.

And he believes the 49ers have gotten off to a good start under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who has installed a scheme based on the Seahawks’ blueprint.

“What’s really cool about this defense is if you look at Seattle, Jacksonville and Atlanta, they all have their different traits, their different personalties and their characteristics,” Coyle said. “And we’re building our own identity on defense.

“You see guys flying around and growing. And this was just our second regular-season game together in this defense.”

Saleh uses such terms as “all gas no brakes” and “extreme violence” to describe the kind of style he wants to see from his defense. In the 49ers’ 12-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers seemed to compete physically with the Seahawks for the first time in a long time.

On the first possession of the game, 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt set the tone when he separated Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham from the ball with a big hit. Graham was never a factor in the game, catching just one pass for 1 yard.

“If you’re looking from a progress standpoint, I don’t look at so much production as much as what it looks like on tape and the violence, the speed, attacking the ball, that’s what I’m excited about,” Saleh said.

The 49ers will have another chance on a quick turnaround to establish that identity on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium.

Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster will miss his second game in a row with a high-ankle sprain. Ray-Ray Armstrong started against Seattle, alongside NaVorro Bowman, but Saleh said Coyle also fits into his plan.

Coyle entered the game at Seattle in the first half in place of Armstrong, and Saleh hinted he could use both players more interchangeably until Foster returns.

“He deserves it,” Saleh said of Coyle. “He works his tail off and he works hard and we wanted to make sure that we got him some more reps. And to be honest with you, I feel he should probably get a little bit more.

“He’s a great communicator and knows everybody’s job on the football field. He’s very, very strong at the point of attack and he is pretty athletic and fast.”

The 49ers' physicality is showing up on the early downs, as the defense leads the league in allowing just 2.7 yards per play on first downs. But the 49ers have to get a lot better on the down that matters most. The 49ers rank 23rd on third downs, allowing the opposition through two games to convert 46.9 percent of their opportunities.

“Third down is a major emphasis -- every week it is," Saleh said. "We faced 12 more plays than we needed to that first drive just because a lack of execution on that first third-down and 9. We were in great position to get off the field.

"We’ve got to tackle and that takes all 11 running to the ball because a lot of times that first guy does miss, but we can help ourselves a lot by being better on third down for sure.”