Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers


Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch on 49ers’ defensive philosophy, stockpiling D-linemen like Drake Jackson

Jun 15, 2022 at 2:07 PM--



Many believe the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch connection starts with Lynch, a Hall of Fame safety, having played for Shanahan's father in Denver. However, the 49ers general manager believes their team-building philosophy actually started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While there was no overlap between Lynch's time playing for Tampa Bay and the 49ers head coach's time as a quality control coach there, the time with the Buccaneers helped mold how the two would create San Francisco's roster upon taking it over in 2017.

"In Tampa, clearly, things started up front," Lynch explained during the 49ers' State of the Franchise event. "That was very much the philosophy, and it's easy to have that philosophy when you have guys like Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. It helped win us a Super Bowl, and so it's something I've always believed in."

The 49ers have drafted at least one defensive lineman in five of the six drafts that Lynch and Shanahan have helmed. They've used their first selection on a defensive lineman in four of those drafts.

"And I think in the day and age of football, it's set up right now for offense to have so much success," Lynch admitted. "I really believe it's the great equalizer to have a dominant defensive line. It's the one thing that you can dictate from, and Kyle has the same philosophy. So, we've continued to add to it. We had some good pieces when we first got here. We continued to add to it every year, and it's served us well."

The 49ers used their first selection this year, a second-round pick, on defensive end Drake Jackson. He's a player they hope can one day serve as a long-term anchor opposite phenom Nick Bosa.

"Drake's been great, just getting him in there," Shanahan said. "OTAs are always different. We're not doing as much O-line, D-line, and stuff, so you don't get to see as much as you want from those guys. But when he's been in, he's been exactly as advertised. I mean, the movement, what he can do.

"I like to joke that we like to stockpile D-linemen here, and we'll just worry about the offensive pieces and everything else later. Like, 'Are you sure we need our 18th D-lineman?' But if they're that good, yes, you do. Nothing else matters.

"When you sit there [at] pick 61, the odds are very small. You don't see many guys who jump off the screen that don't go in the first 20 picks. ... The first time we watched Drake, he was like the 10th or so D-lineman we watched because we were going off their projection [of] where they might go. But his tape was better than the nine we saw before him."

Shanahan adds that he sees the ability in Jackson to be a top NFL defensive lineman.
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