49ers News: Rookie Aaron Lynch has made the most of Aldon Smith's absence

The San Francisco 49ers took a small gamble on South Florida linebacker Aaron Lynch in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Questions about Lynch's work ethic dogged him both when he walked out of Notre Dame for a less-visible role at South Florida and also when he was drafted by the 49ers. South Florida's then-strength and conditioning coach even took to Twitter to chide the 49ers for not prioritizing "integrity & character" when they selected Lynch.

Regardless of the negativity, Lynch has done an admirable job proving himself worthy of more playing time the linebacking corps in a shuffled linebacker corps attempting to make up for Aldon Smith's absence.

“He’s naturally strong,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “I have no idea what he can lift. But he’s football strong, he’s got football-functional strength. He can place his hands on someone and stop them or knock them back.”

Fangio believes that Lynch having to scrap and claw to prove himself as an NFL commodity has been a benefit to the kid's psyche.

“It was probably the first time in his life that he wasn’t so sought after and wasn’t ‘the’ guy,” Fangio said. “It probably helped him.”

It seems to have done wonders.

“I feel like I probably take it a lot more seriously now that I’m in the NFL than I did in college,” he said. “I took it seriously in college but not from the standpoint where you get in every other day. I’m using it as something I need to do. Because everybody in the NFL’s strong.”

Follow our San Francisco 49ers team page for the latest 49ers news!

Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed