The San Francisco 49ers never expected Aldon Smith to miss the extended time that he will miss this year. Fortunately, something can be done before it is too late for him. In the meantime, the 49ers will turn to a certain rookie outside linebacker to help them generate some kind of pass rush. That rookie is Corey Lemonier. He is one of the more underrated rookie pass rushers.
The 49ers traded their third round pick (93rd) and their seventh round pick (216th) to the Green Bay Packers for pick number 88. They used this pick to select Lemonier. This was a move that I was skeptical about but Mike Mayock of the NFL Network draft coverage team said: “Fits what they do. Kind of a somewhat conflicted pick in the sense that his talent would be a late-first to late-second round.”
Lemonier has surely showed that he has first round talent. He didn’t see much time until the Aldon Smith ordeal came about. Last week against the St. Louis Rams was the most regular season time for Lemonier. He did an excellent job of getting pressure on Sam Bradford.
The 49ers used Lemonier at outisde linebacker and at defensive end in their nickel package. He was very disruptive. On one play, he caused Bradford to over throw a wide open Austin Pettis for a touchdown. Rams offensive tackle, Joe Barksdale was on roller skates the whole night. He got pushed right back into Bradford by Lemonier on the overthrow to Pettis. Lemonier has a first step that is extremely quick. It is amazing how well he gets a jump on the ball.
The pass rush ability of Lemonier flashed right away. This is something that pass rushers do. They show you right away whether or not they are capable of rushing the passes. Lemonier is definitely capable. HE showed this in training camp.
The preseason was an opportunity to see Lemonier exhibit the pass rushing skills that he developed at the University of Auburn. His jump on the ball was so fast that Trent Green, the broadcaster doing the Kansas City Chiefs games though that he was offsides.
Lemonier had a constant presence in the Chiefs and San Diego Chargers backfield as he registered two sacks in the preseason. It wasn’t the sacks that stood out though. The thing that jumped out was how quickly he was able to get into the backfield and make the quarterback rush his throws.
The measurables are definitely there. Corey Lemonier (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) ran a 4.60, 40-yard dash, plus posted 27 reps on bench press and had a 33-inch vertical at the combine. It is clear that this player is a pass rush specialist.
It will be very important for Lemonier and company to get a good pass rush because Matt Schaub is a player that will drive his team down the field if he gets time in the pocket.
Lemonier does a very good job of using his hands to keep offensive lineman off of him. He has a surprising amount of strength in his bull rush. This is something that was an added plus. Losing Aldon Smith for a period of time will hurt the 49ers but they can rely on Lemonier to hold it down until their premier pass rusher comes back.