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49ers' Aaron Lynch talks growth from college to NFL

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Aaron Lynch was avoided by other teams in the NFL Draft due to character concerns. A year later, and he's in line to be a starter for the 49ers.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of the odd draft crush here and there, there's rarely any reason to get really excited about players drafted in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds of the NFL Draft. Obviously, there have been tons of players drafted in those rounds who have been very good -- legendary, even -- but those are players who all defied expectations.

I don't know if San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch will be one of those played who defied expectations when it's all said and done, but he's certainly got things off on the right foot. The fifth-round pick developed into a truly disruptive pass rusher down the stretch, and he's got to be a favorite to start sooner rather than later.

He's a first-round talent who fell all the way to the 49ers in the fifth round. Why did that happen? The ever-present "character concerns," of course. Obviously, I'm playing them down a little bit, as teams let him fall to the fifth round for a reason, but the 49ers obviously felt they had learned enough from him pre-draft, and that their locker room would be a strong support system.

It's that strong support system that Lynch credits with his growth this past season.

"You learn that you always have to give your upmost [sic] effort because you're not just doing it for yourself, you're doing it for everybody in the room" Lynch said, via the team's official website, "And that's what I really got from those guys, when they wenre out there, they gave it their all. They put us in a position to win games."

Lynch says that he "matured a lot from college," and that he's taking things more seriously. He says that football in the NFL is "not a playground anymore, and that's really brought me up and made me more of a man."

It's good to hear this kind of stuff from Lynch. He wasn't a guy who got in trouble a whole bunch in college, but he was often criticized for a lack of effort both on and off the field. As far as I'm concerned, there's no better player to learn from when it comes to effort than defensive end Justin Smith. Both Smith and running back Frank Gore were specifically cited in the piece.

I think it's safe to say that everybody here is excited about what Lynch can bring to the team going forward. It sounds like he's working hard, and I expect he'll be in line to start opposite Aldon Smith, unless for some reason the 49ers insist on keeping Ahmad Brooks and keep him in a starting role. Personally, I didn't like that they rewarded Brooks with more playing time after his stunt last season, especially given that Lynch was better at that point in the season.