The San Francisco 49ers lost one linebacker for the season on Monday and had another one rejoin the team.
NaVorro Bowman's season-ending Achilles injury was confirmed by the club after the All-Pro inside 'backer went down on a non-contact play in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The incoming player is Aaron Lynch, who missed the first four weeks of the regular season due to a suspension. The third-year pass-rushing outside 'backer has recorded 12.5 sacks in 30 career games. He'll look to spark a 49ers defense that has recorded seven sacks in four games.
The return of Lynch is also a boost to a 49ers team that is looking to stop a three-game losing streak this Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals. The NFC West foe is also dealing with injury concerns. Carson Palmer sustained a concussion in a Week 4 home loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The starting quarterback's Week 5 availability will likely be a game-time decision.
The 49ers did not officially place Bowman on Injured Reserve just yet. Lynch has been granted a roster exemption while he practices this week.
"That's a horrible loss," Lynch said in front of his locker on Monday. "We hope he comes back healthy and takes as long as he needs to take. He was one of the leaders of our defense. Everybody knows who NaVorro Bowman is, so he's always one of the guys on the field they gameplan (against).
"Losing him on the defense is horrible. But as far as our mindset, it's not going to change on the defense. We're still going to go out there and play our defense. We're going to miss him, but now we're going to play for him."
Chip Kelly said Lynch's four-week stint with the team's strength and conditioning staff received positive reviews. He's now ready to contribute to a defense that is playing on short rest.
"They said he's really done a great job working," Kelly said. "We're excited I think to get him back and get a chance to start working with him again as coaches."
Kelly did not commit to an amount of playing time for Lynch against the Cardinals. The coach did say, however, said the team is hopeful he'll be on the field for TNF.
Lynch told reporters he's trimmed weight during the four-week suspension. He's back down to his playing weight of 270 pounds. Lynch explained that the recent birth of his first son has sharpened his focus and passion for the game.
The linebacker's improved fitness and mental outlook was on display when he returned to practice.
"When I went out to practice today, the plays came easier than I thought they would because I prepared myself mentally," Lynch said.
The linebacker isn't sure of his rep count for the Cardinals game, but he's prepared to handle any and all roles on Jim O'Neil's defensive scheme. Lynch said he's ready to play on both sides of the field at outside linebacker. Ahmad Brooks and Eli Harold have started in those roles to begin the 2016 campaign.
"I'm excited," Lynch said of his pending return. "I've been waiting just like any other football player that loves to play football and can't play for the first four weeks. I'm just ready to do whatever I can to help this team."