Part of this plan came to fruition when San Francisco tabbed South Florida defensive end Aaron Lynch in the fifth round with the 150th overall pick.
The 49ers must have considered a few things with regard to this pick. Coming into the draft, general manager Trent Baalke must have realized how Aldon Smith's off-the-field issues, and subsequent consequences, may affect the team's plans.
Aaron Lynch transfered from Notre Dame to USF. He's a 6-foot-5, 249-pound DE who will play OLB for the #49ers.— Taylor Price (@TaylorPrice49) May 10, 2014
With an NFL suspension looming for Smith, the 49ers needed to add venerable pass-rushers. Lynch could help fill that void.
At 6'6" and 249 pounds, Lynch has the height and length to line up on the outside of the defensive line.
The 49ers are hoping he can put up the type of numbers he did at Notre Dame instead of what he accomplished at South Florida.
Still, there is no doubting he has the physical traits to suggest he is a bona fide pass-rusher.
"When the motor is running, Lynch has appeared unstoppable at times. Has everything you look for in an NFL end, in terms of physical gifts," Rob Rang of CBS Sports writes in his scouting report.
Would like to see if 49ers DL coach Tomsula can pull out the Aaron Lynch from his Notre Dame days.— TURRON DAVENPORT (@TDavenport_BSN) May 10, 2014
This is the type of player that San Francisco is seeking as a potential short- or long-term replacement for Smith.
In 2013 at South Florida, Lynch totaled 5.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.
The knock on Lynch revolves almost entirely around his attitude and mentality.
Rang describes some of these issues, especially after Lynch transferred to South Florida:
Lynch looked like a future first-round pick during his time at Notre Dame but, frankly, just went through the motions after his transfer to South Florida. He slimmed down with the Bulls, weighing in at 249 pounds after tipping the scales closer to 260 with the Irish and needs to regain his bulk and determined play to stick in the NFL.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports also touches on similar issues following the 49ers' selection:
Lynch is a polarizing prospect, in that he possesses the natural tools and size of a first-rounder, and had scouts excited after an incredible true freshman year at Notre Dame back in ´11. Unfortunately his effort appeared spotty at best in his lone season at South Florida, leading many to question his passion for the game.
In terms of his size, Lynch may be best suited to move to the outside linebacker position since his 249-pound frame may be too small to measure up at defensive end.
The character questions are always an issue, but the 49ers have shown willingness to work with such athletes before, and they will hope to do so again.
Lynch will be added to the roster as insurance behind the eventual happenings with Smith. Switching positions to outside linebacker will most likely be the eventual solution to Lynch's lack of ideal weight at defensive end.
Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta will likely be the favorites to step in for Smith, pending his suspension.
Yet the 49ers will at least have Lynch as a plausible backup option. He does have the tools to make an impact, and the pass-rushing capabilities that he showed in Notre Dame didn't just disappear.
Lynch has admitted he made some mistakes during his college years:
#49ers Aaron Lynch admits he made mistakes. "I’m just so happy somebody took time out of their time to take a chance with me."— Cam Inman (@CamInman) May 10, 2014
Hopefully the 49ers locker room can provide a safe haven and fresh start for this young defensive standout.
He has the tools to make a sizable impact. Lynch just needs to apply the right mindset.
As always, be sure to stay tuned to this author's coverage and analysis of each 49ers pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Follow him @PeterMcShots on Twitter.