Aaron Lynch was benched in four of the 49ers’ final six games last year, rendered a healthy scratch while his teammates ran off a 5-1 record.
“I was pretty down and out, what was going on as far as not playing as much and whatnot,” the Bears’ newest outside linebacker said Friday. “Who wouldn’t be? Anybody who wants to play football is not going to be feeling too up. I was just down and out a little bit. I was frustrated.
“But that’s why I moved on and found a great spot with the Chicago Bears.”
The reason: defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who coached Lynch to six sacks as a rookie in 2014 and was a “huge figure in my life.”
“His mentorship, the man that he is, his background, it’s just somebody you kind of like you want to impress him,” said Lynch, a one-time freshman All-American at Notre Dame who transferred to South Florida and turned pro after his redshirt sophomore year. “You go out there and you play every down for your team and your coaches and Vic has that type of respect, that type of vibe, where you want to go out there and do your best because you’re going to get the best from your coach.”
In a thin free-agent market, and having cut Pernell McPhee and Willie Young, the Bears have reason to be take a one-year gamble on Lynch, who turned just 25 earlier this month. He totaled 12 ½ sacks over his first two NFL seasons. Then came two lost years: a four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension in 2016 and a battle with his weight. The Bears list the 6-6 Lynch at 270 pounds, but he topped 300 at times with the 49ers.
Lynch totaled 2 ½ sacks combined the last two seasons, playing only 14 games.
“It was a humbling state for me in my life,” he said. “Not being able to play the game that you love and played for your whole time growing up … it really humbled me and made me attack things differently now.”