San Francisco's rookie linebacker has made numerous improvements along the way.
The obvious ones have taken place while competing with San Francisco’s deep outside linebacker group. Beating No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher to bring down Alex Smith last week for a sack stands as Lemonier’s top moment of the preseason thus far. Safety
Lemonier’s first sack aside, there’s more to the third-round draft pick’s development than what meets the eye.
The former defensive end at Auburn has been making two major adjustments as a 49ers rookie. Besides transitioning from a three-point stance to a two-point stance as a stand-up linebacker, Lemonier is looking to contribute on special teams.
It’s something the 6-foot-3, 255-pound linebacker never did in college.
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The rookie noted he’s been playing on all coverage units. Lemonier noted it’s a key part of the game. It will also help him carve out a significant role on the team as he competes to back up starting outside linebackers,
“Special teams is one of those things people forget about, but it’s one of the biggest factors of the game,” Lemonier said. “I take it serious here.”
Lemonier was on the field when the 49ers allowed a 104-yard touchdown return to Chiefs safety Quinton Demps last week. The rookie linebacker, however, was on the far side of the field when Demps broke through the wedge on the right side of the field to sprint past kicker
“It was minor mistakes,” Lemonier said of the long return given up by San Francisco’s kick-off team. “It was really nothing. We need to come back this week and go at it.”
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Lemonier looks to continue the progress he’s made against the visiting Minnesota Vikings. It’s not known how long the starters will play in the primetime Sunday night game, but Lemonier will likely receive opportunities to compete against starting-caliber players on both defense and special teams.
So while Lemonier finished with four tackles and one sack in his second preseason outing, the rookie remains unsatisfied.
“I’m always hard on myself… I always want to get better,” Lemonier said. “I’m just trying to look at the positives, but also look at the negatives and get better off that.”