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49ers vs. Bengals: If Aaron Lynch can't go, Eli Harold should play more than Corey Lemonier

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Eli Harold should get plenty of playing time over the next three games.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is probably the biggest bright spot on a bad team. He's got a world of potential ahead of him, and he's made people forget about Aldon Smith a lot quicker than any of us thought possible. But there's a good chance Lynch won't be available on Sunday when the 49ers host the Cincinnati Bengals at Levi's Stadium.

Lynch is dealing with a concussion, and he was listed as questionable for the game. That designation is supposed to denote a 50 percent chance of playing, and I get the sense that he actually really is questionable and that it's not just the 49ers gaming the injury report like every single team in the league does at one time or another.

Personally, I hope he doesn't play. He's young and if his status is that up in the air hours before the game, then I don't get why the risk is taken at all. But the 49ers are -- presumably -- smarter than me when it comes to such decisions and I suppose we'll have to wait and see what happens about 90 minutes before game time.

What I'm concerned with is who will wind up starting in Lynch's place. That has historically been Corey Lemonier, but after being one of his bigger supporters over the years, I'm just not seeing any long-term potential with him. Lemonier is not a good pass rusher, and the 49ers need good pass rushers. He is serviceable against the run, but I don't see the excitement there.

Rookie Eli Harold is a much more intriguing player, and that's not necessarily based on what we have seen from him in the NFL, but more based on his college tape and the fact that we know the guy ahead of him, Lemonier, is nothing special.

Yet when Lynch missed Sunday's game againt the Cleveland Browns, Lemonier made the start and played 72 percent of defensive snaps. Harold, on the other hand, was in on 37 percent of snaps. It's an uptick in his playing time, but as the unknown commodity, I think we need to see more before the regular season comes to a close.

Neither Lemonier nor Harold have a sack thus far this season, and I don't necessarily need to see a sack to be convinced that Harold can be a good player. I just want to see more of him, because he has a shot at starting in the future ... Lemonier should not.