Lynch expects better 49ers defensive effort in Super Bowl vs. Chiefs

Lynch expects better 49ers defensive effort in Super Bowl vs. Chiefs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — General manager John Lynch knows what a Super Bowl-winning defense looks like and the 49ers did not exemplify that consistently in their win over the Detroit Lions in the NFC Championship Game last Sunday.

“Effort is a non-negotiable,” Lynch sternly said Friday. “That’s one of our core values. I believe that in my heart of hearts. We’ve got four Hall of Famers that represent the defense I played with in Tampa and if you ask every one of us that played on that defense what was our calling card and it starts with effort, that being a non-negotiable.”

In the second quarter of the NFC title game, Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs ran past several 49ers defenders for a 15-yard touchdown, stretching Detroit's lead to 14 points. While many players lunged at the ball carrier, he barely was touched as he crossed the goal line.

“Those things have been addressed,” Lynch said. “You’ve got one game. I would really be shocked if we saw that again. Sometimes that comes — there are excuses for it but they are just that. They are excuses and that has to be non-negotiable. Play your heart out.”

The 49ers regrouped in the locker room at halftime, playing well enough in the second half to earn a trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl LVIII. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks made small adjustments but ultimately, his players came out with more intention.

“Collectively, as a team, I can tell you as a defense, it was unacceptable,” Wilks said regarding the first half. “We talked about that. We got to make sure we play every down as if it’s going to be the difference in the ball game.”

Lynch and Wilks clearly are on the same page in regards to the defense not playing to its potential. They also know that there will be no margin for error when facing the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on Feb. 11.

“Those aren’t plays that we are proud of, those players are proud of,” Lynch said. “It’s been addressed, and I’d be really surprised if we see that again."

With Patrick Mahomes leading the way the for the Chiefs, the 49ers' defense has a tough task ahead. Not only will they need to limit All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce, but slowing down running back Isaiah Pacheco, who also is a threat as a wide receiver, is a necessity.

Wilks believes there has been enough talk about the past and is looking ahead with a clean slate with players who understand that they cannot let their foot off the gas in their final game of the season.

“You can see on those two particular plays, it wasn’t to our standard,” Wilks said. “Those guys understand and know that, and quite honestly, it was embarrassing.”

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