The 2017 NFL regular season gets going a week from today, and in a fitting bit of timing, the 2017 SB Nation NFL preview guide is live. There’s a host of different content, but one of my favorites each year is Stephen White’s look at a breakout candidate for each team.
A year ago, White was just a little bit off the mark with his 49ers breakout candidate, picking Tank Carradine. Of course, given the way Trent Baalke wanted him yo-yo’ing back and forth in weight, it’s not surprising Tank was a disappointment.
This year, White is sticking with the defensive side of the ball. He thinks Aaron Lynch could be the 49ers who breaks out in 2017.
White acknowledged all the problems of the past couple years, whether it be the weight issues, the suspension, or the injuries. They have all contributed to an inconsistent career as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. However, Lynch’s physical tools coupled with how this offseason, training camp, and preseason have progressed seem to indicate arrow up for the pass rusher.
Lynch heads into tonight’s preseason finale playing arguably some of the best football of his short NFL career. We have to take preseason games with a grain of salt, particularly given that he is primarily playing in the second half against reserves, but he is dominating when given an opportunity. This past week, he led all NFL players in quarterback pressures.
No defender in the NFL registered more pressures this week than 49ers Aaron Lynch pic.twitter.com/1RB4L85KMf— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 29, 2017
On the one hand, this is coming against reserves, but on the other hand, a good player should dominate inferior talent. Lynch is doing just that, and will likely get another big opportunity tonight against the Los Angeles Chargers. The 49ers will rest many of their starters, and I would not be surprised if we saw Lynch play most of the first half, and maybe even the third quarter.
Lynch is on the strong side of the roster bubble right now. The team has acknowledged they plan on using an extensive rotation along the defensive line. Barring a trade by the end of this weekend, it makes all the sense in the world to keep Lynch around. By all accounts he has done everything the coaching staff and John Lynch have asked of him, and he has dominated in his playing time. There are certainly roster limitations, but Lynch seems to be in position to do big things this season.