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SANTA CLARA – Rookie outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, a talented player who entered the NFL with a lot of questions, is finding his answers from those who surround him.
“I have great role models around me,” Lynch said on Wednesday, ticking off the names of many of his defensive teammates with the 49ers.
And he is also learning from the players on the offensive side, he said.
“We really don’t watch the offense as much because we’re doing our own thing, but you watch (Colin) Kaepernick, you watch Joe Staley, Frank Gore, Anquan (Boldin), Brandon Lloyd, how all those guys prepare,” Lynch said. “You have no choice but to professional yourself because you take it in from all the older guys. It’s like a little brother looking up to a big brother. That’s what it’s like in this locker room.”
Lynch has taken over the role of the nickel pass-rusher from Corey Lemonier, who struggled to generate a pass rush in the first three games of the season with Aldon Smith serving a nine-game suspension.
Lynch is still searching for his first NFL sack, but he has eight quarterback hits and 14 pressures, according to stats compiled by the 49ers’ coaches.
Lynch was a fifth-round draft pick after transferring to South Florida after showing star potential at Notre Dame. He was widely viewed as a character risk in the lead-up to the draft.
“I’ve definitely matured,” Lynch said. “I wouldn’t say my character was bad, like it was put out there to be. People who know me, know that. I’ve definitely matured as a man and a football player. But that comes with experience and being around older guys. I’m not around a bunch of college guys any more, so everybody is more professional.”
Lynch said he spent a lot of time watching Justin Smith and Patrick Willis when he first arrived with the 49ers. Now, he said, he has widened his focus to learn from everyone.
“You watch how Antoine (Bethea) plays. You watch how Eric (Reid) plays. You see how P-Cox (Perrish Cox) plays. You see how Patrick plays. You see how (Michael) Wilhoite plays,” Lynch said. “I just think you take everything from everybody.
"So I’ll watch everyone because you feed off everybody. When you feed off the guys who are doing well, and the whole defense is doing well, you feed off everybody on the team and you’re to be hyped and excited, and you’re just going to love playing football.”