Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch credits Kyle Shanahan for 49ers’ team-first mentality

Jan 17, 2020 at 7:47 AM--

You've probably already heard the story. San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan benched cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in favor of Emmanuel Moseley during the first quarter of Saturday's playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Did Witherspoon complain? Did he throw his helmet on the sideline or argue with his coaches? No.

What Witherspoon did next is a perfect example of this squad's team-first mentality. The third-year cornerback sought coordinator Richard Hightower and asked to take Moseley's snaps on special teams.

"That's the next job," Witherspoon told NBC Sports Bay Area. "When I'm not needed at the main job, then the next one is to go contribute on special teams. ... It's all about contributing and trying to help this team win football games."

John Lynch would expect no less from his players. The 49ers general manager joined KNBR on Thursday night and shared that he believes the team-first mentality all stems from the head coach.

"I don't just say this to say it because I work with the guy," Lynch said on the Tolbert, Krueger and Brooks show, "but I give Kyle so much credit because he communicates with these guys. He had told Ahkello he felt like he earned the opportunity to start, but he also said, 'Ahkello, this is the playoff time. It doesn't mean we're mad at you, we've got great belief in you, but if it doesn't go well, though, we're going to make a move, and we're going to make it quick.'

"I think when you don't surprise players, they're much more willing to do those type of things, and I think Kyle's got a great skill at doing that, but it also speaks to leadership on this team and the special feeling that guys talk about. That's a great example of it, and it is all about winning, and everyone understands that they have a role.

"I'm proud of Ahkello because I know he's a great competitor. He wasn't pleased with the way he played there but he accepted it like we would want him to, and worked his tail off this week to try to get back. Kyle will make a decision this week, and we'll see where that goes."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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