49ers G.M. John Lynch played defense during his NFL career. So it’s no surprise that he still sees things through that lens.
Speaking recently to the media, Lynch compared the team’s two most important offensive players to a defensive player.
“They’re both extremely hard workers,” Lynch told reporters. “They’re both extremely talented and gifted, but that’s when you have a chance to be special as a player, when your work ethic kind of matches with the prerequisite that you’re a talented guy. I think they both love the game. Jimmy brings a little bit of a linebacker approach to the position, and I think George brings a little bit of a linebacker approach to the tight end position. I think they kind of see eye-to-eye on how the game should be played. . . . That’s a great advantage for us. I think they’re both really good players and we’re fortunate to have them.”
Lynch was then asked to explain how a quarterback and a tight end can demonstrate a linebacker mentality.
“I used to play a quarterback all the way through my junior year at college, I switched over,” Lynch said. “I think early on we talked a lot about just what a good teammate [Jimmy] is. I think quarterbacks oftentimes, because there’s so much demanded at that position, they don’t get to be as much a one of the guys. Their job is different. So much is asked of them and so it’s hard for them to connect as well as other positions. Jimmy kind of just innately gets that. That’s who he is and I think a lot of that goes to his family. But a lot of it, he loves every part of the game, the physical part of the game, even.
“I think George, obviously, you watch him play. He probably wouldn’t like me saying it’s a linebacker mentality, but that’s kind of how I think as a defensive player. I love the way he plays the game. I battled against him hard during my career, but Brett Favre was the guy I probably respected most because he had so much damn fun playing the game. You’re in an intense moment and you look over and he’s doing the ‘YMCA’ in the huddle or something while you’re at Green Bay. George is very reminiscent to me of that. In the midst of intense and tough and tight situations, you just see an exuberance with him that’s special. I think that’s contagious and when you’re like that, you better be a really good player. We’re very fortunate that he is, he’s a great player.”
That mentality becomes very useful in a season that likely will be devoid of fans in the team’s home stadium. Kittle previously explained in a visit to #PFTPM that he’d be happy to not have fans on the road. Though he didn’t say it, the reality is that, if/when fans aren’t present at home, Kittle’s natural energy and love of the game will light the fire for any teammates that need an external nudge to get the most out of their abilities.