It's no secret that I'm a big fan of San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch. I don't know if I'm setting myself up for disappointment or not, but I expect big, big things out of him next season. I said as much in his 90-in-90 post, which you can find here. I expect Lynch will be a well-known name among folks who don't even pay attention to the 49ers.
But his high level of play in a limited role last season was noticed by someone (and a Seahawks fan to boot!), as Danny Kelly of the SB Nation mothership included Lynch on his list of "gritty defensive role players." You may remember Fooch posting on a similar list, but concerning the offensive side of the ball.
Fullback Bruce Miller appeared on that list, and I agree with the summation that Miller is absolutely a gritty role player. In my 90-in-90 on Miller, I noted that I thought he was underutilized by the 49ers last season.
But back to Lynch, here's what Kelly had to say about him:
The Niners will surely see some changes implemented up front on defense this season as they replace Justin Smith, but outside linebacker Aaron Lynch should continue to see his role grow. The rookie played in 49 percent of San Francisco's snaps last season, notching six sacks, 27 quarterback hurries, eight quarterback hits and four passes defended. He showed that the Niners' decision to select him in the fifth round was no mistake, and depending on what happens with Ahmad Brooks going forward, we could see him playing a pretty big role opposite Aldon Smith in 2015.
Nothing to argue with there, I think! Lynch is very good as a pass rusher, though I do wonder if he can defend the pass. He didn't really do that at all this past season, and that's the one area where Ahmad Brooks is clearly better than him. I hope Lynch can make that leap though, because if he does I agree with Kelly -- he'll play a major role opposite Aldon Smith next season.