SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — It will take more than five days before San Francisco 49ers General Manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan can truly move on from the team’s disappointing fourth quarter collapse that ended in a blown lead and 31-20 Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The pair met with Bay Area reporters Thursday for the first time since the team returned home from Miami on Monday.
“I’ve been on the other side of winning one and I know how good that feels,” Lynch said. “I’ve always heard how devastating, what a punch in the gut, losing one is. We’re going through that right now. And that’s hard but something that’s important. Something we talked a lot about it as a team is let’s not just do away with what a special season we had. Let’s not just forget that. Let’s talk about the moments and memories. It’s what we did in our team meeting yesterday.”
Lynch used the team meeting to help the team mend its shaken spirit and look forward to next season.
“We had just random guys stand up and talk about their favorite moments and memories,” said the front office mastermind of the club’s remarkable turnaround from 4-12 to 15-4. “Yeah it’s hard to get back (to the Super Bowl). I believe eight teams have gotten back (the next season) after losing the Super Bowl. Three have won it, five have lost. So it is tough, but we do believe we are different.”
“We have to own the disappointment,” he continued. “But that being said, I think this group is very strong in terms of who we are…In my mind (Shanahan) was the best coach in football this year. The last game, we have to all own what happened. Our guys like that. They will take that, put in on their shoulders. They are going to own it and we are going to move forward. We are going to be better for it.”
But there is lingering pain from the loss. Lynch was asked a second time about his thoughts as the Super Bowl came to an end.
“It stinks, it really does,” Lynch said of the loss. “I think having it in your grasp and you have such a group in the lockerroom that just cares. They care about each other…We didn’t win every game, it wasn’t perfect, but we answered every call and to not finish the deal, it hurts. That will stick with us for a lifetime. To me, it’s about what you do going forward.”
“For all the perceived negativity (from the team’s critics),” he continued. “I also know, I got off the plane, I went to my daughter’s basketball game and I can’t tell you how many people who came up and said thank you. So to all the people out there that appreciated that, appreciate the effort from our team and Kyle and his staff. We are appreciative (of their support).”
Shanahan told reporters he’s proud of how his team has handled the loss and the criticism.
“Everyone else can evaluate it all you want,” he said. “I am proud as can be of how our team handled everything, how I did, how John did, how everyone did. Now we can deal with whatever because we’re proud of how we handled it. If I wasn’t proud of that, then the stuff would be very hard on me. That’s what’s cool when you get in these moments and you can feel all this, it makes you stronger. That is a cool feeling. Not to mention how hard grieving the loss of a Super Bowl is. We’ll start that process.”