San Francisco 49ers defensive end Aaron Lynch was a healthy scratch in the team’s Week 1 game against the Carolina Panthers, head coach Kyle Shanahan confirmed to the media on Monday. Lynch was dealing with a back injury earlier in the weak, but was healthy enough to play on Sunday.
The decision was made because the team wanted more depth on the interior of the defensive line, according to Shanahan. It’s an interesting development, given the argument could be made that Lynch is the most accomplished pass-rusher on the roster at the moment.
San Francisco finished with zero sacks and few hits on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. The Carolina offensive line blocked well and, in particular, Solomon Thomas seemed to struggle to get any pressure. I didn’t see him anywhere near Newton on crucial plays, despite Thomas playing the third-most snaps of any defensive lineman on Sunday.
Lynch still seems like the odd-man out on a defense that wants to survive without him, but probably needs him to get after the quarterback. There has been talk about his weight, motivation and many other things but at the end of the day, Lynch is good at bringing down quarterbacks. I personally feel like the 49ers would be better served with him in the rotation.
But that’s a decision for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and Shanahan. They left Lynch off the active roster on Sunday — we’ll see if they do it again in Week 2.