49ers' John Lynch compares feeling of making Super Bowl as GM, player

49ers' John Lynch compares feeling of making Super Bowl as GM, player

SANTA CLARA – John Lynch has stood in a postgame locker room, talking to the press after winning an NFC championship before. That came in the 2002 season while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was just a few weeks before they throttled the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Lynch didn’t believe that emotion could be replicated after his playing days were done. That belief held strong even after he took over as 49ers general manager, and even as the 2019 season came up roses.

Sunday’s 37-20 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game changed his mind completely.

“I never thought you could equal the feeling of going to the [Super Bowl] as a player, but this one’s just as good,” Lynch said in the 49ers locker room. “It’s much tougher during the game because you can’t do anything about it.

“I think it comes from the pride I have in these guys and the way they believe in themselves. It’s the same with the coaching staff. I watch the tireless hours they work and put to get us an advantage each week, and they do. This is awesome. It really is.”

[RELATED: 49ers open as slight underdogs vs. Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV]

Odds seemed great Lynch would never be part of an NFL team again. After all, he had a cushy gig as a FOX color analyst with upward mobility virtually guaranteed. He left it all to join the executive branch and lead the 49ers personnel department in partnership with head coach Kyle Shanahan.

He did it for a chance at this moment, and maybe a better one in a fortnight’s time.

“I remember my wife not being too happy I was going to do this because I really did have a nice job,” Lynch said. “At some point, Troy Aikman was going to leave and I was going to be the lead guy, but something was pulling at me to compete and be a part of a team. Just as much as the wins, the adversity can’t be replicated. It’s awesome. It’s really fun.”

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (5:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8:00 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 6:00 p.m. Friday)

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

NFL rumors: League seeks to add seventh playoff team in each conference

The NFL’s playoff structure is expected to change to reportedly include seven teams in both conferences to advance to the postseason.

The current proposal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, would add one playoff team in each conference and only the top seed in the AFC and NFC would be rewarded with byes in the first round of the playoffs.

The changes to the playoff format would take effect this season when the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. ESPN reports there is “mounting optimism” the new CBA will be agreed upon within the week.

Through last season, the top six teams in both conferences made the playoffs. If the playoff proposal had been in effect last season, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers would have advanced to the playoffs as the Nos. 7 seeds.

As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the 49ers would have still earned a first-round bye in the playoffs. But the Green Bay Packers, the No. 2 seed, would have played in the extra game against the Rams. If the Rams were to have upset the Packers in the wild-card round, the 49ers would have played Los Angeles in the NFC Divisional Playoff instead of the Minnesota Vikings.

But the new proposal would have had an even more major impact in the AFC, where the Kansas City Chiefs would have been forced to win three games in the playoffs just to advance to the Super Bowl.

"That's been agreed to for a long time," one source familiar with the CBA talks told ESPN about the NFL's new playoff structure. "There wasn't a lot of disagreement to that issue."

[RELATED49ers roster analysis: More receiver depth needed around Deebo Samuel]

Players on the top team in each conference will receive postseason pay for the bye weekend, unlike years past, according to the report.

Also, ESPN reported that the sides are also trying to work through a proposal for a 17-game regular season, while the exhibition season is shortened to three games. The earliest that change could occur would be the 2021 season, according to the report.

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Deebo Samuel pleas for 49ers to re-sign Emmanuel Sanders in free agency

Before the 49ers officially had lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, tight end George Kittle was already preaching they would be back next year.

But it didn't stop with him.

49ers players throughout the roster already are thinking of everything they can do to make another run at it, and that includes bringing back free-agent receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

Fellow wideout Deebo Samuel made it clear Wednesday on Twitter that he wants to see the 49ers bring back the 32-year-old veteran.

Sanders showed his appreciation later Wednesday morning.

After coming over from the Denver Broncos via trade in October, Sanders excelled with the 49ers. He caught 36 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and added five receptions for 71 yards in the postseason.

But Sanders could have been an even more critical part of 49ers lore, had it not been for Jimmy Garoppolo's overthrown pass with less than two minutes remaining in Super Bowl LIV. But it was not meant to be.

Sanders has been open about his love for the team that had just barely missed the championship and has spoken out about those second-guessing him due to his age. 

The receiver laughed at the fact that he has been "flying past 23-year-olds," and exhorted that he still has plenty of good years left in him.

[RELATED: Sanders offers advice to teammates playing in first Super Bowl]

He also embraced the youth the other wide receivers brought to the team, such as Samuel and Kendrick Bourne. Sanders loved the loose vibes of the 49ers' locker room and assisted the younger players in prepping for the big moments of the Super Bowl. 

Deebo surely noticed that and knows he wants his teammate back for the team's quest to make another Super Bowl run next season.