Lemonier has played the past two games while Smith is in rehab for substance abuse. He is splitting time with Dan Skuta, who is getting a lot of work in passing situations and has also shined on special teams. Smith could be back on the field sometime next month, but even then Lemonier likely will have a role.
The 49ers took Lemonier out of Auburn in the third round with the No. 88 overall pick. I spoke with Scouts Inc. draft expert Steve Muench to get his thoughts on Lemonier as a prospect. Muench said there were concerns about him (there always are when grading third-round talents), but Muench thinks Lemonier has real NFL pass-rush potential.
Here are Muench’s thoughts on Lemonier, who is becoming a major factor on the 49ers’ 53-man roster:
He can definitely help, especially with the pass rush. We were concerned about his effort at times and in fairness he may have been frustrated playing on a bad team in 2012 because his motor was noticeably better on his 2011 tape. We also felt that he can read keys and get off blockers quicker as a run stopper. On the other hand, his initial burst and closing speed make him a constant threat rushing off the edge. For what it’s worth, he posted the third fastest 40-yard time and 10-yard split at the 2013 combine. He also has the length, upper body strength and lateral mobility to develop a variety of pass rush moves.