On-Air Now
On-Air Now
Listen Live from the Casino Matrix Studio

Aaron Lynch part of the 49ers’ plan, for now



A report from Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat made it’s way to Pro Football Talk this weekend.

Here’s the headline: The 49ers’ talented young pass rusher Aaron Lynch is reportedly overweight and in danger of getting cut. Let’s dissect this a little bit more.

It’s almost impossible to estimate what anyone weighs on the practice field, but I’m told the 49ers are okay with Aaron Lynch playing bigger in 2017. During practice drills, Lynch and Ahmad Brooks are mostly with defensive line coach Jeff Zgonia. New defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has said Lynch will have his hand in the dirt this season. 49ers defensive linemen have been told to play at a weight they are comfortable with, per Solomon Thomas.

San Francisco’s coaching staff was furious last spring when Lynch showed up to the offseason program 30 pounds overweight, which he blamed on sympathy pounds for his pregnant wife. So, this is a player who has had weight issues before. He also said last season the 49ers were one of the best teams in the NFC, causing teammates and media members to roll their eyes.

It’s that type of knucklehead behavior that has Lynch on thin ice, but as of now, a player John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan plan to keep on the 53-man roster. Respected veterans Antoine Bethea and Torrey Smith were let go because it was viewed they had already peaked in their football careers. That was not the case with Lynch, who combined for 12.5 sacks in 2014 and 2015. Shanahan wanted his coaches to get their hands on him this spring and summer before making a decision on his future.

Lynch isn’t the reason the 49ers didn’t address pass rushing early in the draft. Still, the new regime felt that he’s young enough (24) and has been productive in different schemes that it’s worth seeing what he has left. Lynch was limited to seven games last season due to a suspension to start the season and a nagging ankle injury. What he put on film was unacceptable, but the bloodbath that was the 2016 49ers defense was almost viewed as a mulligan from Lynch and Shanahan.

Saleh said he and Gus Bradley were high on Lynch coming out of the NFL Draft.

“He’s on the defensive line. We’re going to try to keep his hand in the ground at all times,” Saleh said on April 10. “A couple years ago, when he came out of the draft, we were looking at him as a possible LEO. So, he has all the traits that you would like. Now it’s a matter of us trying to work with him to best utilize what he’s, in my mind, designed to do and that’s get after the passer.”

There are ways Lynch could find himself in trouble. If sixth round pick Pita Taumoepenu emerges during training camp as a legitimate pass rusher, it’ll put pressure on Lynch to play well in preseason games. If he’s given coverage assignments and he can’t mark tight ends or running backs, it’ll hurt his stock. If someone unexpected on offense has a surprising camp, it could push Lynch on the outside looking in. The defensive line is so crowded the 49ers might have to pick between Lynch or Brooks at the end of the day. He’s anything but a sure bet.

The ‘in danger of getting cut’ part of Cohn’s report is not inaccurate. In fact, the 49ers reportedly released undrafted free agent KD Cannon because of attitude issues during minicamp. So they aren’t afraid to cut a player with potential.

But as of May 9, Lynch is in the 49ers’ plans.