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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Drew Brees has respect for both Falcons and Patriots

Drew Brees threw for a combined 726 yards and five touchdown passes and still lost both games against Atlanta.

AP photo

Drew Brees threw for a combined 726 yards and five touchdown passes and still lost both games against Atlanta.

The Falcons defense gave up 350 passing yards or more just three times this season, but two of those were against Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who threw for a combined 726 yards and five touchdown passes and still lost both games against Atlanta.

"How about stop their offense first?" Brees asked last week after a practice for the Pro Bowl at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista. "Atlanta has done as good a job as anybody of playing complementary football, between offense and defense. Obviously their offense is very explosive. They've scored a lot of points. They also take really good care of the football. They don't put their defense in many tough situations." …

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McKay: Communication, drive are key to John Lynch as 49ers' GM

Rich McKay said John Lynch’s lack of front office experience won’t hamper him if he relies on the right people.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Rich McKay said John Lynch’s lack of front office experience won’t hamper him if he relies on the right people.

John Lynch should make a seamless transition from player and broadcaster to the 49ers general manager because of his competitiveness and ability to communicate.

That’s according to Falcons president Rich McKay, who went from the Bucs general counsel to GM in 1994 before leaving for the same position in Atlanta in 2003.

"The trait I like about John for this is his competitiveness," McKay said Monday at Super Bowl LI. "The other thing John had that was impressive to me in Tampa was he had Derrick Brooks in front of him, who’s an easy guy to get along with. Warren Sapp in front of him, who’s not so easy. And Simeon Rice to the right. You go ask any of those three what do you think of Lynch? And all of them will say, 'Best teammate I ever had, toughest dude I’ve ever seen. Ultra-competitive.' So I like the fact that John is one of those guys that have gotten along with and has seen all different types of athletes. He doesn’t see it through 'the way I used to play the game.' That’s not who John is."

Lynch, 45, has no background in scouting or personnel, but he defended his lack of experience in those areas during a conference call Monday night. …

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Lost: One Super Bowl game plan, for nervous half-hour

For about 30 minutes at the Super Bowl LI Opening Night, the backpack of Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was missing.

AP photo

For about 30 minutes at the Super Bowl LI Opening Night, the backpack of Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was missing.

For about 30 minutes at the Super Bowl LI Opening Night, the backpack of Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was missing. Gone. The game plan for Sunday’s game was in it.

No, the Patriots had nothing to do with it.

Shanahan, the soon-to-be 49ers head coach, discovered his backpack was nowhere to be found when the Falcons media session ended Monday night at Minute Maid Park. NFL security personnel searched frantically.

Turns out, longtime San Francisco columnist Art Spander accidentally picked up Shanahan’s backpack where the media had surrounded Shanahan and it was returned a half hour later.

"That would have been bad," Shanahan told USA Today about potentially losing the Super Bowl game plan.

Spander discovered the mistake when he noticed the backpack he was carrying did not have his computer.

"As if I could figure it out. I was panicked because he had mine and my computer," Spander tweeted.

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Can John Lynch follow John Elway's footsteps again?

Former Buccaneer John Lynch waves to the crowd during his Ring of Honor ceremony during halftime of the game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Former Buccaneer John Lynch waves to the crowd during his Ring of Honor ceremony during halftime of the game between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016.

John Lynch grew up as the biggest fan of John Elway. He wanted to follow in his cleat prints, first to Stanford, where he was recruited as a quarterback, then to the NFL.

Lynch was switched to safety by Bill Walsh, and his career arc followed that of Ronnie Lott. In fact, for the third time, Lynch will be a finalist Saturday for the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Super Bowl LI. But Lynch still has a chance to follow Elway, who took over as general manager of the Broncos and built a Super Bowl championship team.

On Saturday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said the hot rumor at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., was that Lynch may be hired as the 49ers general manager, despite having no front office experience. Since retiring, Lynch has forged a critically acclaimed career as an NFL analyst with Fox.

The 49ers announced Lynch's hiring late Sunday night and he will be paired with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who will be hired as the 49ers head coach after Sunday. Lynch played four seasons for Shanahan's father, Mike, in Denver. …

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Bucs LB Kwon Alexander has a fan, mentor in Cowboys' Sean Lee

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- A year ago, when Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, he asked Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee if he could help Tampa Bay's Kwon Alexander in his development as a young linebacker.

The Cowboys' 30-year-old star got in contact with Alexander, and their communication helped in the Bucs linebacker's emergence in his second season, leading the NFL in solo tackles.

"When he came in as a rookie, you watched him on film and had instant respect for how he played, the intensity and the instincts," Lee said Friday after a practice as he prepared for Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando. "We were both talking football, just picking each other's brains. He plays the position the right way. It's good to have a relationship with someone like that, and it's been unbelievable to watch him play."

Lee said he remembers the veterans who helped him learn how to be a linebacker -- Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor at Penn State and guys like Bradie James and Keith Brooking with the Cowboys. …

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Gerald McCoy: NFC fought to end, but nice to rest up now

ORLANDO -- Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy had a sack and four tackles, the most he's had in his five Pro Bowls, but still was disappointed to see the NFC come up short, losing 20-13 to the AFC in Sunday's game at Camping World Stadium.

McCoy pointed to the hustle on a play in the final minute of the game as proof the game still means something to the players involved, even the difference between a $64,000 winner's share and the $32,000 players from the losing team get. Down seven points, the NFC got to the AFC 19-yard line, only to see Kirk Cousins get intercepted at the 2-yard line by Denver's Lorenzo Alexander, who then lateraled to teammate Aqib Talib.

Cousins though ran Talib down at the NFC 15-yard line -- 66 yards from where the play started -- and forced a fumble, but Talib recovered it to seal the win.

"We had a chance to win it at the end," McCoy said. "We played hard. I think Mike (Evans) had a good time. I know I had a good time. At the end, the money was on the line, and then pride kicks in and guys don't want to embarrass themselves. They want to show why they're here. I think the level of play was good." …

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Mike Evans 'banged up' but still grateful for first Pro Bowl

ORLANDO -- For Bucs fans frustrated to see receiver Mike Evans on the sidelines throughout Sunday's Pro Bowl, don't be angry at NFC coach Jason Garrett.

Evans, who barely played and was not targeted in the NFC's 20-13 loss to the AFC, said after the game that he was "a little banged up" but still enjoyed being a part of his first Pro Bowl experience.

"I was a little banged up, but I still wanted to come out here and experience this Pro Bowl. It was off the chain," Evans said on the field after the game. "The fans showed mad love, it was a great experience and hopefully I'm blessed enough to get back here."

Evans played early in the game but didn't have a pass thrown his way, and didn't play in the second half, watching from the sidelines as the NFC and teammate Gerald McCoy came up just short. Evans ranked among the NFL's leaders in catches (96), yards (1,321) and touchdown catches (12), but also said he's glad he can catch his breath.

"I'm happy it's over though. I get to go home, chill with my family and get ready for next season," Evans said. " …

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