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49ers Notebook: John Lynch high on Deommodore Lenoir, expects Tashaun Gipson and Brian Griese to return

Feb 28, 2023 at 1:28 PM--

There was much to unpack from San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch's press conference at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. He provided updates on quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Trey Lance.

Purdy may finally undergo surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow as early as next week. Lance is progressing well in his recovery from the season-ending ankle injury he suffered in September.

Lynch even provided an update on soon-to-be free agent Jimmy Garoppolo, saying the union between the 49ers and the quarterback had "run its course."

Those were, understandably, the top 49ers-related headlines of the day. However, Lynch did provide several other tidbits during his conversations with reporters.

49ers high on Deommodore Lenoir

Deommodore Lenoir turned in an up-and-down regular season effort. However, once the playoffs arrived, the second-year cornerback was impressive, hauling in an interception in each of the first two postseason games.

Opposing quarterbacks owned a 96.8 passer rating when targeting Lenoir during the regular season. That number dropped to an abysmal 21.8 in the playoffs.

"One of my favorite things when I was a player, now as a general manager, is to watch players have breakthroughs," Lynch said. "I think this was a breakthrough year for Deommodore. We believed in him as a player coming in. It's a hard position to play. It's a hard position to get thrown into a fire. The coolest thing about him, he kind of broke through that, and it wasn't easy. There's another corner on the other side in Mooney [Charvarius Ward] that people really respect. So they were going to go at the other guy.

"[Lenoir] withstood some adversity where people were coming after him, and the only way to put out that fire is to start making plays. And by the end, I wasn't so sure in some cases, that they were throwing it at Mooney. So I think that speaks a lot about the fortitude, both mentally and physically, of Deommodore.

"The coolest thing is he's got some flex where he can play outside and inside, so he gives us a lot of versatility there. We're really proud of the young man. He's going to be a big part of us moving forward."

Return of Tashaun Gipson and Brian Griese?

After speaking at the podium, Lynch stepped away and spoke in a more private setting with the Bay Area reporters who made their way to Indianapolis. We learned a few more tidbits from that conversation.

Safety Tashaun Gipson flirted with the idea of closing the book on his 11-year career. Lynch expects the veteran to return for his 12th, and the 49ers would love to have him return.

"I think he wants to play, and we'd like to have him back," Lynch said.

Of course, that will involve re-signing the defensive back. He is among the 20 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 15.

Gipson stepped in as a starter this past season. He and Talanoa Hufanga made such an impressive pair that San Francisco moved Jimmie Ward to the nickel corner spot upon his return from injury.

Quarterbacks coach Brian Griese is also expected to return in 2023, following his rookie coaching campaign. Last year, Griese left a 13-season career as a television analyst to join head coach Kyle Shanahan's staff.

Initial tweet from Matt Barrows of The Athletic, which has since been deleted:

Some news from John Lynch today;

* S Tashaun Gipson wants to play another year and 49ers would like him back
* DL Javon Kinlaw has been rehabbing/working out at team facility (Lynch able to observe from office window)
* QB coach Brian Griese will be back in that role for 2023.
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) February 28, 2023

Javon Kinlaw rehabbing

We recently asked fans via Twitter to name their favorite current 49ers player and the one player who frustrated them the most. Javon Kinlaw's name repeatedly popped up as the answer for the latter. The defensive tackle has struggled to stay healthy, appearing in just 10 games over the past two regular seasons.

Lynch noted that Kinlaw has been rehabbing the knee injury he struggled through this past season, working out at the team facility. The general manager has observed the player's progress from his office window.

Kinlaw spent much of the 2022 season on injured reserve, returning for the final handful of regular-season games and the playoffs. He earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 44.2-or-lower in each of his final four games, including the playoffs. Kinlaw's 31.9 overall grade and 28.8 run-defense grade this past season are career lows, and he has recorded just 1.5 sacks over his career.

Evaluating rookie kickers

Lynch and the 49ers will be evaluating rookie kickers at the NFL Scouting Combine, with Robbie Gould scheduled to become a free agent. The team hasn't closed the door on its veteran kicker possibly returning but needs to do its due diligence.

"We're not done with that (the evaluations)," Lynch said via NBC Sports Bay Area. "Part of the whole Robbie situation is we got to do our work here, and you want to give Robbie as much time to pivot as possible. But we have to do our evaluations here."

Lynch added, "Robbie is still very much in the picture. He's been tremendous for us, so we'll see where we go on that."

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