The 49ers were up by two touchdowns, and there was the rookie outside linebacker, breathing hard, covered in grass stains and looking back to the home sideline so he could pick up the loud instructions coming from respected defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. The 49ers position coach told Lynch to slightly adjust his pre-snap stance during the two-minute warning. Lynch followed the details closely and proceeded to bull-rush a Chargers linemen back into the pocket. San Diego turned the ball over on downs, ensuring a 49ers win.
Lynch has taken to San Francisco's coaching throughout the preseason.
On Sunday, it really showed.
The fifth-round draft pick recorded three tackles, his first career sack and two pass breakups, batting down a pair of Charger passes at the line of scrimmage.
"He’s playing strong, and he’s coming along," coach Jim Harbaugh said after San Francisco picked up its first win of the preseason. "(He's) coming along pretty darn good. Just making improvements every day, really. He’s learning and he’s listening, so that’s really encouraging. Got high hopes for him"
Lynch was listening all the way until the very end of the game.
"Tomsula is amazing," Lynch said of the defensive line coach who works with the team's front seven on gameday. "Even though he's on my tail, I get a lot of real positives from him. That's the great thing about it. He's not here to baby me; he's here to make me the best that I can be. He knows how to do it, too.
Lynch appeared to have his way with San Diego's reserve offensive tackles. He bull-rushed them consistently and almost recorded a forced fumble when he hit Chargers quarterback Brad Sorensen mid-throw.
"I thought I got my hand on the ball," Lynch said.
So did fellow rookie
Lynch's statistics would have been even more impressive had he gotten to the quarterback a bit sooner. Even so, Lynch and his hard-charging pass-rush maneuvers enjoyed a strong showing in front of the home fans and his defensive teammates. He was also able to knock down two passes at the line of scrimmage.
"It makes me happy because when I do that," Lynch began, "it’s better for the whole defense.
"If I can get a good bull-rush off, that sets up the tackles and the ends or the blitzing linebackers to get to the quarterback. If you know you can push the tackle into the quarterback’s lap, it stops him from being able to make a pass and it helps out our DBs and it helps out our linebackers and our other guys on the defensive line."
Lynch said his confidence remains high after Sunday's impressive outing.
It should be.
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