5 Things To Watch In 49ers’ Final Preseason Game

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May 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers linebacker

Aldon Smith

(99) during organized team activities at the SAP Performance Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Aldon Smith and the Outside Linebacker Position

So far this preseason Aldon Smith has played very little and has been pretty ineffective. He didn’t play in San Francisco’s first preseason game, but in games 2 & 3 he combined for just a couple of tackles and no sacks.

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  • He was crucial in setting the edge against Ryan Matthews on the fourth-down stop against the Chargers, so I’ll give him that much. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t start, but you’d like to see a bit more out of him, even if he is going to be suspended.

    Even more important though is who will fill in during that time? With the suspension possibly reaching 6-8 games (per multiple sources) that backup spot becomes a starter for up to half the season. Last year it was a mixture of Dan Skuta and Corey Lemonier. This year, Aaron Lynch has also worked his way into that mix.

    Aaron Lynch has been fantastic this preseason at the edge rusher position. So far he his making his case for some snaps this season in the absence of Smith and had his best game to date against San Diego.  Pro Football Focus gave him a +5.3 rating for the game. Here’s what they had to say about him:

    "Breakdown: As if the 49ers don’t have enough quality linebackers already, the rookie put forth one of the best games for a linebacker to date this preseason. Lynch tallied two hurries, a sack, two batted passes, and tipped a third pass that led to an interception, all in just 21 pass rush snaps. He also was stout against the run with a couple run stops. Signature Play: With 8:52 left in the game, Lynch fought to take down the quarterback despite having Michael Harris’ arm wrapped around his neck."

    Last season Skuta played in all sixteen games, including eight starts, and racked up 28 combined tackles in 2013. But, unlike Smith, he isn’t really the pass-rushing type. So, when hes on the field the defense is incomplete. With that being said he was probably the more complete linebacker between he and Lemonier last season which is the reason why he saw more playing time.

    Lemonier definitely fits that pass-rushing mold as well and last season was used primarily as that. He took third-down pass rushing duties (for the most part) and was somewhat effective at it though he only picked up one sack last season. He also had 15 tackles.

    In game one of the preseason he was especially dominant racking up four hurries as well as a sack. If he can improve in other areas of his game, I’d like him to be a favorite in the next year or two depending on what happens to Smith.