Niners Live presents why outside pass-rusher Aaron Lynch is the most overrated underachieving player on the San Francisco 49ers team.
The San Francisco 49ers have not had a feared pass-rusher since the release of Aldon Smith because of his numerous off-the-field discretions. When the 49ers drafted outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, 6’5” and 270lbs, from the University of South Florida, they envisioned him and Smith being a dynamic pass-rushing duo. However, that never came to fruition. This may come as a surprise to many Niners fans, but Lynch has underachieved significantly after his breakout rookie season. His production/effort has dropped, had weight issues the past two off-seasons, and was suspended for four games for a diluted urine sample.
Lynch in the past has been talked about as being a stud on the 49ers’ roster. However, this season was an absolute dud. Lynch, the 49ers’ most talked about pass-rusher, only registered 1.5 sacks and 13 tackles in seven games in the 2016 season, via ESPN.com. No offensive coordinator, offensive tackle, or quarterback fears his presence or those statistics. He ranked 198th in the league in sacks.
Lack of production alert: In his last 14 games played, Lynch has amassed only three sacks total.
Can the new coaching staff find a way to motivate Lynch to fulfill his full potential? Good question. The 49ers have been waiting the last three years for that to happen. But at the same time, if he doesn’t become more professional, passionate, and prepared in his approach to the game, the new front office may deem it beneficial to trade him for a low draft pick or future considerations to set an example to the rest of the players on the roster — underachieving will not be acceptable.
Recapping some of Aaron Lynch’s underachievements and bullet points of why he’s the most overrated underachieving player on this roster at a glance:
- Reported to 2016 training camp around 290 plus pounds (20 pounds over his playing weight) via ESPN.com.
- In the last seven games of the 2015 season, he registered 1.5 sacks.
- His rating against the run was subpar at 44.4 and pass rush? Well below average at 59.9, via Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
- He lacks a non-stop motor and doesn’t go full speed on every snap.
- Lacks an All-Pro level film study/physical training and relentless work ethic.
- After a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he said, “We have the team. We possibly have one of the best teams in the NFL. Easily. Hands down.”
This illustrated a lack of leadership on his part, even if his attentions were to fire up or show confidence in his teammates. The team had a record of 1-6. That is something he should have kept within the locker room. It didn’t help the team one bit as it drew negative media attention to himself and caused a negative domino effect by his inability to step up in terms of his play on the field.
Are your eyes wide open?
Aaron Lynch is a talented player. There’s no denying that; however, talent means nothing if you’re not utilizing or applying your talents in a way that equates to wins and your own personal/professional growth as a player while fostering a desire to be great. Since the second half of the 2015 season, his sack production has dropped immensely as aforementioned. He must improve his diet and training in the offseason to guarantee that he is at his playing weight of at least 265-270lbs. His weight and lack of a strong work ethic/effort could be connected to his taking plays off because his weight is decreasing his stamina. Lynch must mature and improve significantly in these areas if he wants to be involved in the 49ers’ future. This year will be a make or break season for Lynch. If he proves he can be dependable on and off the field, he could be in line for a contract extension. If he doesn’t look for the new brass to move on from Lynch. And make no mistake about it, the 49ers will address pass-rusher through free agency and the draft, respectively, in 2017.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author Jimi Payne Staff Writer at Niners live. Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.