South Florida strength coach critical of 49ers draft pick

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South Florida strength coach critical of 49ers draft pick

The 49ers’ selection of South Florida outside linebacker Aaron Lynch in the fifth round of the draft on Saturday did not come without a lot of careful consideration – and a little controversy.

The harshest critic was South Florida head strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub, who expressed his feelings on Twitter (@CoachStraubUSF).

[RELATED: 49ers draft South Florida DE Aaron Lynch with 150th overall]

"Thought an organization with 5 Super Bowl titles would have a stricter draft criteria. Clearly, integrity & character are not a priority," Straub wrote.

The post has since been deleted, and Straub has been placed on indefinite leave, according to NFLDraftScout.com. Neither Straub nor South Florida officials immediately responded to inquiries from CSNBayArea.com.

Coincidentally, Straub joined South Florida in January 2013 after spending two years as a top assistant sports performance coach at Stanford. Straub was at the University of San Diego from 2000 to ’06, but did not work with Harbaugh’s football program, according to his bio on the South Florida website.

Lynch was considered a first-round talent while bursting onto the scene with Notre Dame in 2011. He transferred to South Florida after his freshman season and was commonly viewed as unmotivated and a character risk.

On Saturday, the 49ers selected Lynch in the fifth round to cushion his fall on the third day of the draft.

“Everybody’s right,” Lynch said. “I am a first-round talent, but I made some mistakes in my past. And I figured that’s what hurt me a little bit. I’m just so excited that the 49ers came around and got me in the fifth round.”

Lynch visited the 49ers recently and said he hit it off with the coaches in Santa Clara. And 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh spoke with South Florida head coach Willie Taggart, who Jim helped recruit to play for his father at Western Kentucky in the mid-1990s. Taggart also coached on Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford.

“As you expect from Willie, (he) told it exactly the way he saw it and believes it,” Harbaugh said. “And (he) believes that this is a good young man. Needs direction. Needs a good structure around him where he’s got guys, men that he would look up to. That he would have a chance to emulate.

“He feels that he’ll thrive in that kind of environment. Said he was extremely good when Willie and his staff got to South Florida and the structure was in place, and practiced every day, and had very good things to say, and had some good tips on what he thought would be in the best interest of the 49ers, and the best interest of Aaron, as well.”

Harbaugh acknowledged it will take a lot of dedication from the 49ers and Lynch to get him on the right track. But with the investment of a fifth-round draft pick, the 49ers decided the investment was worth the risk.

“And it’s never simple as sometimes you make it out to be. It’s not simple. It’s not, not going to be easy,” Harbaugh said. “But we look forward to the challenge. I look forward to the challenge. I look forward to the challenge of coaching, teaching, mentoring.

“(I) had a very nice talk with his (Lynch’s) mother, as well. And I think there’s a real chance to have a partnership there. Me, on this end over here, and our coaching staff and our football players and team, and from her. Aaron is very close to his mother. You can tell they care about each other very much. He’s got a chance to be successful, we felt.”

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

49ers visit with free-agent defensive end

PHOENIX – The 49ers had a recent visit with Tampa Bay free-agent defensive end Jacquies Smith, general manager John Lynch confirmed on Sunday.

Smith, 27, sustained a torn right ACL in the Buccaneers’ season opener in September while running down the field on punt coverage against the Atlanta Falcons. The 49ers gave Smith a physical during his visit to Santa Clara. The club has yet to make a contract offer, Lynch said.

"We wanted to get him checked out medically, and we’ll see," Lynch said at the NFL owners meetings.

Smith (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) recorded 6.5 sacks in 2014 and seven sacks in 2015 for the Buccaneers.

After going undrafted in 2012 out of Missouri, Smith signed with Miami. He spent time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before landing on the New York Jets’ practice squad. Smith worked his way into the Buccaneers’ defensive-line rotation in ’14 after being claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

The Buccaneers gave Smith the low tender of $1.797 million as a restricted free agent. Any team can sign Smith to an offer sheet. Tampa Bay would have the right of first refusal but would get no compensation if the team chooses not to match the contract.

With 71 players under contract, the 49ers have $74.5 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association.

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former 49ers OL/DE Clay Matthews Sr dies at 88 years old

Former San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman/defensive end Clay Matthews Sr. passed away on Thursday, March 23rd at the age of 88. 

Matthews originally entered the NFL as a 25th round (247th overall) draft choice by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1949 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons with San Francisco (1950, 1953-55), appearing in 45 games and registering one interception. After spending his rookie season of 1950 with the 49ers, he went on to spend two years (1951-52) in the United States Army where he served in the Korean War.

A native of Charleston, SC, Matthews attended Georgia Tech where he played guard, tackle and end while earning All-Southeastern Conference honors in 1948. In 1949, Matthews was the All-Southeastern Conference heavyweight wrestling and boxing champion at Georgia Tech.

Matthews was the first of three generations to play in the National Football League. His two oldest sons, Bruce and Clay Jr., each spent 19 seasons in the NFL. Originally selected by the Houston Oilers in the first round (9th overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft, Bruce was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007 after 14 Pro Bowl and seven First-Team All-Pro selections. Clay Jr. was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 1st round (12th overall) in the 1978 draft and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Three of Bruce’s sons, Jake, Kevin and Mike, and two of Clay Jr.’s sons, Clay III and Casey, either have spent time or currently play in the NFL. Clay III is currently a member of the Green Bay Packers and a six-time Pro Bowl selection at linebacker while Jake is currently an offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round (6th overall) by the team in 2014. 

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