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.”
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)