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Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch identifies standouts from 49ers’ offseason program

Jun 27, 2017 at 9:47 PM--

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch joined "Gary and Larry" on KNBR Tuesday to discuss a number of topics. With the team's offseason program now complete and training camp still a month away, Lynch was asked which new players from organized team activities and minicamps really stood out to the first-time general manager.

The first player who Lynch mentioned was rookie tight end George Kittle – a fifth-round draft pick out of Iowa.

"I think one that's been talked about a lot out there and, like you said, you don't want to overreact to OTAs, but George Kittle, a guy we got in the fifth-round is a guy who really flashed," Lynch said. "He's got some suddenness to him in his movements. He catches the ball extremely well. One of the things we knew is that we weren't going to be able to build this to the way we want it in one year.

"I think George gives us something we don't have in a playmaker like down near the red zone, where you've got a one-on-one matchup. We're confident we're going to move the ball because Kyle knows how to put together an offense and we've got guys who fit into what he wants to do. The speed, the separators, all that.

"One thing you have to be able to do when you're down near the red zone and everything tightens up, you have guys that can just man-on-man beat the guy in front of him. We were concerned we didn't have that and were going to have to live without it for a year. We feel like George Kittle maybe gives us something where he is that guy who on a one-on-one situation, you can flex him out. You can put him in the middle of the field and he can kind of impose his will and just out-athlete people. That has been extremely positive. We thought that coming in but then he probably exceeded our expectations."

Kittle may be the only tight end who is a lock to make the 53-man roster. That position may be one of the more intriguing battles during training camp.

Another player who Lynch mentioned was former Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was signed at the start of free agency.

"He's exceeded our expectations, my own expectations, just in terms of his athleticism (and) how he moves out there," Lynch said.

Lynch addressed the criticism that the 49ers might have overpaid for Smith by saying that they needed a linebacker who had been in this system before. Smith was part of the Seattle Seahawks defense from 2011 until 2014. Gus Bradley, whom current 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh worked under, was the defensive coordinator in Seattle during Smith's first two seasons in the league.

The 49ers general manager made it a point to name one returning player from the 2016 season. Second-year cornerback Rashard Robinson is among those who have impressed Lynch this offseason. Robinson is a favorite to be the 49ers' top cornerback on the depth chart once the season kicks off.

"I didn't know much about Rashard Robinson but when you watch him in OTAs, he looks like a number one cornerback and that certainly was a position of need and of concern for us," Lynch said. "And Rashard has made us feel a lot better about that position."

Lynch also mentioned pass rusher Elvis Dumervil but acknowledges that there is some concern whether or not he can be the player he was earlier in his career.

"We tend to think that he's had a couple of bad years with health and at the end of last year, we started to see a guy who was getting healthy," Lynch said. "So we made the move with him."

You can listen to the entire interview on KNBR.


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