The San Francisco 49ers defense is coming off arguably its best performance of the season, against the Atlanta Falcons, but has been rather inconsistent this season. Football Outsiders currently ranks the unit No. 30 overall, and they also rank among the worst in various counting stats and rate categories.
As the unit tries to figure outs its identity, one of the biggest impact players to date has been outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. He leads the team with six sacks, which ranks tied for eighth in the league. More importantly, he is getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback aside from those sacks. Gil Brandt was posting a variety of stats and rankings recently, and he posted this about Aaron Lynch.
DL/LB w/ most QB pressures: J.J.Watt 45 A.Lynch 37 J.Houston 37 C.Jordan 32 P.McPhee 31 T.Hali 31 M.Wilkerson 27 C.Matthews 27 C.Avril 27— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) November 10, 2015
He has one more game on a lot of these guys, but even still, Lynch is having a heck of a season. Given that he is not piling up ridiculous sack totals, it is easy for some to overlook, but he is doing serious work. It is all the more impressive because he is doing this without guys like Justin Smith and Ray McDonald to clear the way.
The 49ers base defensive line includes Quinton Dial and Glenn Dorsey on the outside. When the team moves into the nickel, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Arik Armstead get in the mix as well. Armstead in particular is showing some signs of growth as a pass rusher, but nobody is going to confuse this group with the 49ers line in recent years. Ideally this group continues to grow, but for now, Lynch is doing great work with a growing unit.