No. 1: LEO/EDGE Aaron Lynch
I almost added offensive lineman Josh Garnett to this list. But let’s face it — he was a first-round pick just last season, so his leash may be a bit longer than the one for EDGE Aaron Lynch.
Lynch, on the other hand, was a fifth-round pick for the team back in 2014 and amassed six sacks with only three starts. However the last two seasons have been a major disappointment, as he has battled through injuries and a PED suspension to start 2016.
To make matters worse, he showed up to minicamps 20 pounds overweight.
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That is not the kind of first impression a player wants to make with a new coaching staff in place. After the Niners had no choice but to part ways with Aldon Smith a few seasons ago, Lynch has been one of the few 49ers to apply any amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Lynch has the natural quick first step and strength the LEO position requires a defender to have, so his transition into that role should theoretically be smooth.
Since the reports of his weight issues were made public, Lynch has, by all accounts, buckled down and worked his tail off.
With Arik Armstead seeing reps at the LEO position, and with Eli Harold, Ahmad Brooks, Tank Carradine and rookie Pita Taumoepenu all vying for playing time at the position, Lynch will have to do something that he seems to struggle with: work hard and be consistent.
With a new coaching staff and a no-nonsense approach to grinding everyday, Lynch will undoubtedly have earned his roster spot if he is starting in September.