Left tackle Joe Staley compared the elation in the 49ers’ locker room Sunday to what he experienced after the team earned a trip to the Super Bowl five seasons ago.
Young players, veteran players, coaches and executives took part in an enthusiastic celebration at Levi’s Stadium after the 49ers recorded their first victory over the season – a 31-21 win over the New York Giants.
General manager John Lynch, who earned nine trips to the Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl ring as a player, was a bit surprised at the genuine show of emotion that included dancing and players hoisting a bucket of water to douse coach Kyle Shanahan.
“I’ve always been an act-like-you’ve-been-there guy, so I was a little surprised I was acting like that,” Lynch said for “49ers Game Plan,” which will air Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).
Lynch said the celebration was a spontaneous show of pride for a team that lost its first nine games of the season, including an unprecedented streak of five consecutive losses by three points or fewer.
“It’s easy to lose a team when you just haven’t won,” Lynch said. “That’s what this business is all about. When you’re not (winning), it can be miserable. I think the fact that everyone feels that positive energy and sees progress despite the fact that it wasn’t showing up on the win-loss record.
“And that’s why you saw a 46-year-old GM bouncing around with our players. It was fun. That’s what makes this league so special.”
But Lynch also sees it as the beginning, not the culmination of this season's journey. He envisions the final six games to serve as a set up for the 2018 season, as many players have chances to show coaches and management they are part of the solution.
“We want to continue to see who’s responding, who is going to be a part of this moving forward,” Lynch said. “But we also want to raise that standard. After a win like against the Giants, yeah, we were elated in the locker room.
“But that didn’t keep us and the coaches from going in there and coaching hard and saying, ‘Hey, guys, we won, but we can be so much better if we tighten up some of these details.’ We’re going to continue to develop that as part of our culture.”