Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

49ers GM John Lynch explains Javon Kinlaw’s improvisation, shares funny story from his playing days

Dec 3, 2020 at 5:53 PM--

Javon Kinlaw looked to be in the right place at the right time during the San Francisco 49ers' win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The rookie defensive end saw a Jared Goff pass come his way, was able to grab hold of the football, and scampered into the end zone for the score.

Kinlaw explained after the game that he wasn't even supposed to be in a position to haul in the misguided pass.

"I was really supposed to be rushing, but I don't know — something just told me to drop, just step back," Kinlaw shared. "I saw the ball come out, like, 'Yeah, we're going to the crib.' That's all I know."

That sounds like some great instincts by the young defender. On Thursday, general manager John Lynch offered up an alternative and somewhat humorous explanation of Kinlaw's improvisation.

"I think Javon's was more a byproduct of him coming off the COVID list, hadn't practiced. He was tired," Lynch explained while laughing on KNBR's Tolbert, Krueger & Brooks show. "So he said, 'I'm going to stand back here and cherry-pick.' And I think that's really what it was. He was tired.

"We talked to him about that because I think Javon is extremely athletic, and every now and then, he likes to show that. I said, 'We drafted you to get after the quarterback, not to play defensive back.' We're working on that.

"But when he makes a play like that, the first thing he said in the locker room was, 'See? I keep telling you.' I said, 'You keep rushing, man. You keep rushing.'"

Then Lynch shared a humorous story from his playing days. He wasn't really one to improvise on the field. The former hard-hitting safety described himself as a "by-the-book guy." However, Lynch does remember one time when he felt comfortable being a bit more flexible and taking chances.

"Once, late in my career, in New England, I had basically talked with (Bill) Belichick and said, 'You know what? I'm going to hang them up, but I want to play this last preseason game,'" Lynch shared. "It was the fourth preseason game, against the New York Giants, and he was like, 'Oh man, that's really cool. You don't have to.' He was still trying to talk me into staying for the year. And I said, 'Nah, I'd like to go play.'

"They had been playing me a little at linebacker, and I said, 'I want to play my position ... and I want to play the whole game.' He said, 'I can't do that. It's the fourth preseason game. You're going to be out there with free agents.'

"For that game, I did whatever the hell I wanted. I was all over the field, and Belichick was giving me the stink eye from the sideline. But what could he do? I was going home already."

Lynch gave an example of doing "whatever the hell" he wanted. The GM said he would blitz when he was supposed to drop back.

Added Lynch: "I just said, 'This seems like a good time to blitz, and I got a sack.' I should have been doing it for 16 years."

So in case you were watching that final preseason game in 2008 and wondered why Lynch was even playing, there you go.

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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