<
>

Less of Aaron Lynch means more for 49ers pass rush

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Aaron Lynch has been conspicuous by his relative absence during camp thus far. But the San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker, slowed by a back injury this offseason, is being worked back into 11-on-11 drills and it's fair to assume he is now the clubhouse leader to take Aldon Smith's pass-rushing place on the right side.

After all, his six sacks as a rookie last season were tied for the team lead, along with Ahmad Brooks.

"I'm more comfortable on the left [side]," Lynch said Wednesday. "I can set the edge and rush off the right side, but I played most of my time in college and high school on the left side. So that's just where I'm most comfortable.

"But being on the right side isn't a step back."

In fact, it should be seen as a promotion, of sorts, what with the right said of a defense generally where the elite pass-rushers set up shop. And at a listed 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, Lynch is bigger than Smith, who was 6-4, 265 pounds.

Yet Lynch did look a bit, ahem, bigger until recently.

"Yeah, I did lose some weight," Lynch said. "The [back injury] setback, I gained a lot of weight not being able to do much. Now I'm doing a lot more. I've shed a few pounds. I'm on a strict diet. I've lost good fat.''

Lynch, who played last season between 262 and 267 pounds, said he was up around 280 pounds this summer. Now? He's aiming for being under 270.

"I'm real close," he said. "I've still got a lot of work, but weight-wise I'm real close. Mentally I'm close. I'm right there."

Of course, being in shape is a much different proposition than being in football shape. And with new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini's more aggressive 3-4 defense, Lynch is expected to be a major cog.

"Honestly, I'm just here to do exactly what I'm told to do, and that's play football," Lynch said. "That's what they drafted me last year to do, and that's what I'm here to do.

"If my role is to start or my role is to backup or my role is just nickel packages or whatever, that's my role and I'm going to go 100 percent."