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49ers mid-season review: Outside linebackers

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The first of the season for the 49ers outside linebacker position saw the emergence of Aaron Lynch, and some regression from Ahmad Brooks. How will it shake out once Aldon returns?

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers are closing in on the end of their bye week, and will be returning to practice on Monday. We are not exactly halfway through the season, but the timing of the bye is close enough that it makes sense to take a look at where everything stands. We will be going through each position over the next week. Thus far we have looked at the quarterbacksrunning backswide receiversoffensive linetight endsdefensive line and inside linebackers. Today, we move to the inside linebackers.

Here is a quick rundown of each player's notable Pro Football Focus information. The other two sites (Football Outsiders and Advanced NFL Stats) do not have information specific to the players.

Ahmad Brooks

Grade: -7.9 (45th out of 46); -4.2 in pass rush, -3.6 in penalty
Pass rush productivity: 30th out of 30
Run stop %: 27th out of 28
Tackling efficiency: t-36th out of 38
Coverage snaps per reception: 8.6 (10th out of 11)

Aaron Lynch

Grade: 4.8 (18th out of 46); 5.0 in pass rush, -0.2 in penalty
Pass rush productivity: 17th out of 46
Run stop %: N/A
Tackling efficiency: N/A
Coverage snaps per reception: N/A

Dan Skuta

Grade: 3.6 (19th out of 46); 2.7 in pass rush, 1.5 in run, -0.3 each in coverage and penalty
Pass rush productivity: 30th out of 46
Run stop %: 30th out of 43
Tackling efficiency: 14th out of 38
Coverage snaps per reception: 9.2 (22nd out of 29)

Corey Lemonier

Grade: -7.4 (82nd out of 84); -4.7 in pass rush, -1.5 against run

The San Francisco 49ers continue to await word on the short term future of Aldon Smith. He might be back this week for the Rams game, he might be back next week for the Saints game, or he will be back the following week for the Giants game. I don't know when in the next two weeks we'll find out, but it will happen.

In the meantime, the 49ers have figured out at least a reserve of the future. Corey Lemonier had the first crack at the primary pass rush role while Aldon Smith has been out. As expected, Dan Skuta handled base work, and Lemonier was the nickel pass rusher. Unfortunately, Lemonier has yet to develop effective pass rush tools, and was seemingly overly reliant on his basic bull rush. In Week 4, we saw Aaron Lynch start to emerge as the pass rushing half of that platoon. Over the last two weeks, he has career highs in defensive snaps, working 48 against the Rams, and 41 against the Broncos.

That being said, the pass rush has been fairly inconsistent. The biggest headache has been that of Ahmad Brooks. He is tied with Justin Smith for the team sack lead, with 3 on the season. And yet, he does not seem to create pressure with much consistency, and he continues to commit too many penalties. The Cowboys game was his most brutal performance in that regard, but he still makes mistakes that players seemingly moved after a couple years in the league.

What will be interesting moving forward is how the 49ers handle Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch once Smith gets back. I suppose we also have to consider Dan Skuta in the discussion, but my guess is Skuta is exclusively a special teams guy once Smith returns.

Brooks would likely retain his starting role in the 3-4, but when they decide to go to the nickel, I suspect we start seeing a platoon with Lynch. The 49ers restructured Brooks contract, which likely keeps him in town a little while longer. It would appear the 49ers would have $5.5 million in dead money if they release Brooks next year, and save $4.1 million in cap space. The dead money drops to $3.2 million the year after, and then $848,750 after that. I can't imagine Brooks is around when this contract is due to expire. Aaron Lynch would seemingly be the guy who will take over for him sooner rather than later. How soon does that happen?