San Francisco

Lynch Says Harold, Taumoepenu Can Help Pass Rush

While San Francisco will look for pass rushers in draft and free agency, pair of roster holdovers could help by shifting into new roles

The 49ers will look for pass rushers at the NFL combine this week, but so is everybody else. The same is true for free agency, where proven pass rushers can demand big money.

So the Niners also are examing their own roster and trying to figure out if they can make better use of the players they already have to get to opposing passers more frequently in 2018.

Speaking at the combine in Indianapolis Wednesday, general manager John Lynch said Eli Harold and Pita Taumoepenu are two players who could add some punch to the pass rush.

According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Lynch said Harold, who played mostley strong-side linebacker in 2017, could be moved to the
“Leo” defensive end position, which is the team’s spot for its best pass rusher.

“We think Eli’s got some skills,” Lynch told Barrows. “We felt like he made some great progress at the SAM linebacker spot last year, but we do believe he has some rush ability that is untapped. And we need to tap it. And we’re going to give him that opportunity.”

Harold, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, was a third-round pick of the 49ers in 2015 out of Virginia, where he played defensive end. He came into the league with a reputation of being a strong pass rusher, but has had just five sacks over 48 games in three seasons.

Taumoepenu, a 6-foot-1, 243-pounder who was a sixth-round pick from Utah in 2017, played in just two games as a rookie. But Lynch believes he could make an impact as a pass rusher and will get a chance at the “Leo” and strong-side linebacker positions.

Taumoepenu is a former rugby player from Tonga who was an impact player at Utah as a defensive end. A year ago, Lynch said Taumoepenu’s work ethic, skills and passion were things the 49ers loved about him.

Lynch wants to see that this summer. Lynch believes Taumoepenu can be a strong pass rusher.

“You need someone with great speed and you need someone with relentless effort,” Lynch said just after last year’s draft. “And that’s the one thing that jumped off the screen. He can run and he plays with his hair on fire.”

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