San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks is listed as doubtful on the injury report, though few expect there's any chance he actually plays in the game. He's dealing with a death in the family, and if he played, it would be a big surprise.
He will be excused for the game, as he should be, and the 49ers will proceed with their comparatively unimportant football game.
But we, of course, need to look at how his absence will affect the team regardless. Brooks is one of the starters at outside linebacker and while he hasn't been playing great football this season, he's a solid all-around player and his absence will surely hurt the 49ers on defense.
Aaron Lynch is a starter on the opposite side and once again, Lynch is one of the few bright spots on a struggling defense. He's getting good pressure on opposing quarterbacks, is effective in the run game and is generally playing very well. I'm excited to see what he can do, and he's already getting double-teamed by offensive linemen.
But on the other side, I really have no idea what to expect. Corey Lemonier is the next man up on the depth chart, as he's been taking more snaps than rookie Eli Harold through four games of the season. Harold has taken primarily special teams snaps, but he has been mixed in on defense a couple times.
I haven't seen much of Lemonier this season, his snaps have all been unremarkable. But during the preseason, I did note that he didn't look much improved as a pass rusher, but that he was solid against the run. I thought he got through his blocks well and was ultimately sturdy against the run, but again, I don't see the value as a pass-rusher.
Harold, on the other hand, is still a complete unknown. I haven't seen him do much in the NFL, even in the preseason, but his college tape was definitely strong as far as pass-rushing is concerned. I hope, if nothing else, we see Harold get a handful of snaps, at least 20, and all on defense. If I could get a look at at least that many snaps from him, I think that would be a good baseline to see what the 49ers are working with going forward.
What are you guys hoping to see? I don't know if it's time to give up on Lemonier yet, but I'm not sure he'll ever develop into a guy that you want starting. Ideally, in the situation where Brooks isn't around, Lemonier wouldn't be that guy, though I think the 49ers could obviously do worse there. I think, at worst, Lemonier makes zero impact plays but also doesn't make any egregious mistakes.
Is that the best-case scenarios for the 49ers in this game? Or do you think there's room for Harold to establish himself here and now?