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How John Lynch’s input shaped 49ers’ defensive strategy against DK Metcalf

Dec 1, 2023 at 11:13 AM--

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The San Francisco 49ers faced a tight schedule leading up to their Thursday night NFC West clash with the Seattle Seahawks. Despite the challenges, the defense successfully contained Seattle's main offensive threat, wide receiver DK Metcalf, limiting him to three catches for 32 yards on nine targets while primarily covered by cornerback Charvarius Ward.

Ward's impressive performance held the 6-foot-4 wideout in check, allowing only one catch for 14 yards when matched against him.

After the 31-13 victory, Ward revealed that the initial game plan didn't have him concentrating so heavily on Metcalf. This adjustment came late, but Ward embraced the challenge.

"[Defensive backs coach Daniel Bullocks], he and [general manager] John Lynch talked, and they was wondering why I wasn't following DK tonight," Ward told reporters. "The game plan wasn't for me to follow him. I guess he talked to John Lynch, and Coach [Kyle] Shanahan was like, 'Well, why not? We need him to.' So they told me to do it, and I was up to the task. I feel like I had a pretty good game."

This week, when asked if game plan conversations with Lynch are unusual, Shanahan said, "I mean, John and I talk about everything, so it's not really like that. John just knew how I felt about something, and he just relayed something to me that I heard about. So, I just went and talked about it and fixed it."

Lynch addressed the conversation on Friday morning, clarifying that his involvement in the game plan isn't commonplace.

"I'll leave it to the professionals," Lynch told KNBR's Markus Boucher and Dieter Kurtenbach. "We're always having conversations, and that was something, when we went out and studied Charvarius, man, I thought, in this guy, there's a lot of untapped potential. And Charvarius has played at a high level for us. But his best football, to me, is when he's got a really big challenge like DK Metcalf."

Lynch added, "You bite your tongue. You say, 'I don't want to be that guy delving into coaching.' But at the same time, Kyle and I talk about everything, and I just said, 'Man, I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you I think we should be doing this.'"

Working on a short week presents unique challenges, with Shanahan heavily focused on the offensive game plan and relying on assistant coaches for the defensive strategy. When Lynch shared his thoughts with Shanahan, the coach was surprised that Ward's exclusive coverage on Metcalf wasn't already part of the plan.

"And next thing you know, we rectify it," Lynch continued. "And that's what it takes. It takes good communication throughout a building. Things like that happen a lot more than you'd think from a variety of people. I'm glad we did it, though."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

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