Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch discusses 49ers being blindsided by Santa Clara County COVID-19 restrictions

Dec 3, 2020 at 3:58 PM--

General manager John Lynch is in Arizona with his San Francisco 49ers. That will be home for the foreseeable future after Santa Clara County introduced new restrictions prohibiting contact sports.

The 49ers admitted over the weekend that they felt blindsided by the news as they scrambled to figure out how to continue their season. On Saturday, the team was traveling for its game in Los Angeles when it learned via social media and text messages from family and friends about the restrictions.

Let's just say the 49ers didn't appreciate finding out that way, and head coach Kyle Shanahan let that be known after Sunday's game.

"I was just very disappointed (in the county) and very proud of our guys," Shanahan said, "that I couldn't give them the answers, and they could put it to the side and come out and play like that."

Santa Clara County executive Dr. Jeff Smith fired back at Shanahan and the 49ers this week, questioning why the team felt blindsided by the news. He even questioned the 49ers' values, indicating that sports teams probably shouldn't play until it is completely safe to do so.

Said Smith: "One might envision a reemergence of team-building if the teams spent their time building a COVID relief fund for the community rather than trying to put the community at more risk."

On Thursday, Shanahan was asked about Smith's comments.

"I'm not (interested in reacting to) someone who questions our values who doesn't know us," the coach responded. "It shows what we're dealing with."

What did Lynch think of the whole situation? On Thursday, he joined KNBR and was asked if the 49ers were caught off guard by Santa Clara County's notice.

"Oh yeah. Absolutely we were," Lynch responded on the Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "Look, there's been a lot of back and forth. I don't know how much good that does anyone. The truth of the matter, we've had a very productive and good relationship with our county in our preparations for this season, which is different from any other. I'm actually grateful to them.

"The NFL has very intense protocols. Ours are even tougher than that because Santa Clara, I think, is as tough as it gets."

Lynch feels the reaction from Shanahan and his players was brought on by raw emotion, and the 49ers encourage everyone to speak his or her mind. So, of course, everyone did.

"You understand, it's a big county, and there's a pandemic, and people's lives are at stake," Lynch continued. "We get that. I just would tell you, I've been incredibly proud with the job we've done with the virus. Our testing protocols and such are as stringent as anybody throughout the country, and our guys have responded incredibly well.

"It did catch us off guard. Our guys managed to focus, get a big win, and then there was a lot of planning to do."

Lynch said that knowing that Santa Clara County had stringent restrictions already in place, more so than most places, the 49ers had already started working with the NFL to form contingency plans had the situation changed, preventing the team from playing at Levi's Stadium.

"That was more really [restrictions on playing] games," Lynch added. "I don't think we ever thought we'd have to leave to practice. So, that was probably the biggest surprise and the order that came down. Nothing had been said about that. We'd been talking (with the county) about a number of other things, in constant communication, so that's probably what threw us for a loop more than anything."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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