The San Francisco 49ers and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh are implementing the 4-3 defensive alignment. One of the key positions on that defensive line is the LEO role. Could Aaron Lynch be the perfect player for that role?
There are many questions regarding the San Francisco 49ers going into the 2017 NFL season.
The franchise has a new front office and a new coaching staff. John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and Co. have also brought a new culture into 4949 Marie P. DeBartolo Way. The last few seasons standards were soft and lackadaisical, to say the least. A tough and strict mentality throughout the building was necessary.
We’ve also seen a very significant change of the guard as far as the roster is concerned. Many of the players drafted and/or signed by Trent Baalke and Co. did not fit the new regime’s philosophy and were released or cut.
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However, after evaluating the roster, the personnel department and coaching staff also decided to keep some players from years past. It is safe to assume that only the players who have proven themselves on the field and/or have shown considerable potential were retained. The 49ers brass also had to determine if those players fit the newly established schemes.
One of the notable players among that group is fourth-year defensive end Aaron Lynch.
Lynch has been both one of the most promising and frustrating players on the 49ers roster since he was drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft. At times he has looked like a good-to-dominant pass-rusher. We’ve seen him dominating offensive tackles and disrupting quarterback’s timing. We’ve also seen him seemingly take plays off. Further, he has battled injuries throughout his short career.
Perhaps directly related to those injuries is the fact that Lynch has had a difficult time staying in peak football-playing shape.
There is no denying Lynch’s natural talents. He is both big, strong and plenty quick for a man his size. I remember seeing him chase down and tackle Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles on the edge. If his body and mind are right, Lynch can be a very productive NFL player.
Given his potential, I believe Lynch is one of the most viable candidates to fill the LEO role for new 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
Winning the battle for the LEO role won’t be easy for Lynch.
This new 49ers regime is all about the players earning their playing time through dedication and performance. Additionally, he will face stiff competition for that spot from the likes of Elvis Dumervil, Arik Armstead, Eli Harold and others. It is safe to say Shanahan, Saleh and defensive assistant, Jeff Zgonina, will be keeping a close eye on Lynch’s performance during training camp.
In years past, it was assumed Lynch would make the 53-man roster based on his potential alone. This year, things are much different. He will have to earn his way onto the roster through sustained performance and improvement.
If he fails to do so, he might find himself on the waiver before too long. To use an old adage, the time has come for Lynch to “put up or shut up.”