The news of Aaron Lynch’s suspension caught us all off guard, and now we need to figure out where the San Francisco 49ers stand. Given that Lynch was suspended four games, this was not his first violation of the drug policy. Trent Baalke and company might hope for the best with players, but I really hope they’re not overly stunned at another violation.
Three weeks ago, we took a look at the 49ers outside linebacker bubble watch. Here’s how we had it situated at the time:
Lock: Aaron Lynch, Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine
Strong bubble: Corey Lemonier
Weak bubble: Marcus Rush
Longshot: Jason Fanaika, Lenny Jones
Lynch will be allowed to practice in training camp and play in preseason games. The team then has until the Monday before their Monday Night Football game to place him on the Reserve/Suspended list. In losing Lynch for four weeks, I would think it bumps Marcus Rush from Weak bubble to Strong bubble, and Jason Fanaika and Lenny Jones from Longshot to Weak bubble.
One of many questions is what this means for Corey Lemonier. He got some decent pass rushing snaps his rookie year, but has been inconsistent since then. He had 272 defensive snaps as a rookie, 143 in 2014, and 276 last season. Does he move into lock status, or just become a bit stronger of a bubble player?
As things currently stand, Ahmad Brooks and Eli Harold would be the team’s starting outside linebackers, with Tank Carradine serving as a primary edge rusher off the bench. Carradine was getting OLB work beyond just edge rusher during OTAs and minicamp, and that should continue, particularly with Lynch out for a month. The competition after those three is going to be fierce now that there is not only an extra roster spot up for grabs, but a chance for some playing time on defense.