John Lynch answered comments about the 49ers defense having a lack of effort in the NFC Championship, and Chase Young might have been a focal point.
In back-to-back postseason weeks, the San Francisco 49ers have had to aggressively play catch-up to avoid elimination. First, against the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers in the divisional round, and then again versus the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship game.
Against Detroit, the Niners had to overcome a 17-point deficit that was highlighted by just how much the Lions were dominating head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad on both sides of the ball.
Including against coordinator Steve Wilks' defense.
San Francisco overcoming that deficit and ultimately winning 34-31 makes everything seem fine, but with the defending-champion Kansas City Chiefs awaiting the 49ers in the Super Bowl, there'll be precisely no room for error from the Niners' vantage point.
And there won't be any room for lack of effort either. Just ask general manager John Lynch.
John Lynch says 49ers must have effort and it's 'non-negotiable'
Speaking to reporters with just over a week remaining before Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas, Lynch was asked about his defense's effort in the narrow win over the Lions in the NFC Championship.
Lynch didn't mince words (h/t 49ers Webzone):
"Effort is a non-negotiable. I mean, that's one of our core values, and I believe that in my heart of hearts. We've got four Hall of Famers that represent the defense I played in at Tampa, and if you ask every one of us that played on that defense, 'What was our calling card?' It starts with effort, that being a non-negotiable."
Plenty of other Niners leaders echoed Lynch's sentiments, including All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner, who said San Francisco's defense was "not good enough at all" over the first two preseason games the team played.
The 49ers have allowed an average of 29 points per game this postseason. KC, meanwhile, has allowed an average of 13.7.
"Play your heart out, and then we've got a lot of good players, a lot of good depth that you can get.
So those aren't plays that we're proud of, those players are proud of. It's been addressed, and I'd be real surprised if I saw again."
Was John Lynch calling out Chase Young?
Without explicitly saying so, it's reasonable to think Lynch might have indirectly singled out one member of the 49ers defense.
Edge Chase Young.
During the NFC Championship game, one particular play stood out when Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs ran for a 15-yard touchdown with plenty of Niners unsuccessful in their pursuits.
For Young (No. 92 on the play), the lack of hustle is beyond evident:
Young's lackluster chase drew plenty of negative attention and criticism from both fans and media alike, which doesn't bode well for his chances of re-signing with San Francisco this offseason.
It arguably stains the midseason trade the 49ers executed to land Young from the Washington Commanders, too.
While Lynch didn't exactly speak about Young, and Young isn't entirely responsible for the overall defensive woes the previous two weeks, it's hard to imagine the general manager's comments being about anyone else on defense.
One can only hope the defender takes it to heart when he and the rest of the Niners square off against quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Super Bowl Sunday.