SANTA CLARA – Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is eligible to return to 49ers practice Monday after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse.
The 49ers are in desperate need of a pass rush, and the team was expecting big things from Lynch, who recorded 12.5 sacks in 30 games (16 starts) in his first two NFL seasons.
The 49ers, who are likely receive a temporary roster exemption, could activate him in time to play in Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium.
Lynch was prohibited from practicing with the team or working on the field with coaches during his suspension.
“I haven’t watched Aaron do anything because he’s not with us during practice,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said last week. “I know talking to our strength and conditioning coach, he’s working extremely hard off the field. After we get after Game 4 then we’ll get him back, but I haven’t had a real chance to observe anything Aaron is doing just because of the nature of what the deal is.
“He’s not allowed to practice with us or train with us. Everything he’s doing is with our strength and conditioning coaches on the side. I know he’s kind of over there, but we’re on the field so I haven’t had a chance to really take a look at him or watch him.”
Through four games, the 49ers have recorded seven sacks. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks leads the team with two sacks.
The NFL suspended Lynch after denying his appeal. He said he entered into the NFL’s program on substances abuse upon entering the NFL draft in 2014 for a positive test. He said he was suspended due to a diluted urine sample.