San Francisco 49ers: Why Aaron Lynch must inspire the defense


The San Francisco 49ers dropped their fourth straight game of the season, losing to the New York Giants 30-27 on Sunday night. Unlike the previous three games, this one had the offense finally show up to make it competitive. Still, the defense had their struggles again, and it will continue to be that way until players start matching the intensity of outside linebacker Aaron Lynch.

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Eli Manning was able to torch the 49ers secondary for 441 passing yards, completing 41-of-54 passing attempts and scoring three touchdowns with one interception. He set a franchise record in completions, and he couldn’t have looked any better in the game’s final drive with 1:45 left after the 49ers went ahead 27-23. It continues a trend of quarterbacks lighting it up on San Francisco’s defense — well, except for Aaron Rodgers, who was actually held to 224 yards and one touchdown.

While there’s the argument that San Francisco should have chewed up more clock on offense, this certainly isn’t a time to nitpick over that side of the ball. This is the first time all year that the offense looked competent for a full 60 minutes. In a quote from Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area, Jim Tomsula said that it was the defense’s job to get it done.

"“If we can score, we’re going to score,” Tomsula said. “We got to go out and get it stopped.”"

Complaints will be aimed at the secondary, but there needs to be more pressure on the quarterback up front. One player, Lynch, has taken that next step among the front seven. He was the reason that Rodgers struggled as much as he did, pressuring the Green Bay quarterback five times and sacking him twice. Ben Stockwell of Pro Football Focus goes in detail on Lynch’s performance against the Giants offensive line.

"Lynch more than doubled that output [against the Packers] last night (four hits, eight hurries) with a dominant performance against the Giants’ offensive tackles, in particular Marshall Newhouse (-4.9). All that was missing from Lynch’s performance was converting a couple of those pressures into sacks to really bring the heat to Manning."

The only reason Manning’s numbers looked as good as they did was because the Giants attempted 22 more passes than any other quarterback has against the 49ers defense.

December 20, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch (59) rushes during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Levi

So how has Lynch jump started to this much success in only his second year? The linebacker exodus and Ahmad Brooks being away from the field has given him more opportunities. He’s already coming off of a great rookie campaign with six sacks, currently leads the team with three sacks, and is also ranked third in the NFL with eight tackles for loss.

It’s time for the rest of the defense to step up. The 49ers are horrible at defending the pass so far this season. They’ve given some up some extremely gaudy numbers and there’s no question to why they find themselves in the bottom of the NFC West even with the Seattle Seahawks struggling without Marshawn Lynch and St. Louis Rams struggling to score.

  • 1,494 passing yards allowed (third-most in the NFL)
  • 299 pass yards per game (third-most in the NFL)
  • 8.9 yards per attempt (third-most in the NFL)
  • 71.1 passing completion percentage (third-most in the NFL)

Statistically, they’re as bad as the New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, and the Giants they just faced. If it wasn’t for Lynch, who knows how much easier it could have been for these opposing quarterbacks and the offensive attack.

The defense has looked good against the NFC North opponents they’ve faced this season, but there’s been a lack of consistency. Hopefully Lynch’s great performances will get the rest of the defense inspired for every game.

Next: San Francisco 49ers: Kaepernick has to find answers

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