Why Lynch equally proud, disappointed after 49ers' 2022 season


INDIANAPOLIS — The 49ers strung together a league-best 12-game win streak entering the NFC Championship game.

Then, the 49ers’ season ended in anti-climactic fashion.

Quarterback Brock Purdy sustained a torn elbow ligament on the team’s sixth offensive play of the game. And the 49ers could not compete in the second half of a 31-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, the 49ers — like everyone else in the NFL — start over with the goal of getting back to a spot deep in the playoffs.

“Time heals some wounds,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said on the 49ers Talk podcast. “The only thing I know to do is go back and try to put a better product out there.

“We had a really good team, so it will be difficult to improve this team. But I was taught a long time ago that you never stay the same. You’re getting better or getting worse. We intend to get better.”

The 49ers have already lost some key components of the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, the new coach of the Houston Texans. The club replaced him with Steve Wilks.

Changes will also be coming to the roster. The club is not expected to retain quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, right tackle Mike McGlinchey and linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair as free agents.

There will be many other comings and goings, too.

The 49ers have qualified for the NFL postseason in three of the past four seasons. Each time, the 49ers won their first two playoff games before losing in the Super Bowl and twice in the NFC Championship game.

The 49ers, who last won a Super Bowl at the end of the 1994 season, will be seeking to end the drought and win a sixth Lombardi Trophy. But the pain of the recent near-misses will live forever.

Lynch, who was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021, has one Super Bowl title as a player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He said that championships does not erase the memory of the seasons that ended with playoff losses.

“I do know this from my time in Tampa, when we were knocking on the door for a long time: Those things never go away even after you win one,” he said. “I think about ’99, when we had a great opportunity. I think about ’05 in Denver. We hosted the AFC Championship game. Those things never go away. They always live in there. So there is a pain component.”

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Lynch said there is no second-guessing after a season in which the 49ers entered the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a 13-4 record.

“Both things can be true: We fell short of our expectations but I’m still very proud,” he said. “When you win 10 games in row in this league, you’re doing something really good. We had a really good team, a special team.

“I think it would be easier at times if you said, ‘If we just had this.’ We had the team. We didn’t need to do anything different. We had the team. We just fell a little short.”

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