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.”

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

Report: Colts request permission to interview Paton

George Paton, one of the remaining possibilities for the 49ers’ general manager position, is reportedly on the Indianapolis Colts’ list of candidates to fill their vacancy, too.

The Colts have requested permission to speak with Paton, the assistant general manager of the Minnesota Vikings, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported on Monday.

Paton is scheduled for a second interview with the 49ers on Friday, along with Atlanta offensive coordinator and San Francisco’s presumptive head coach, in Atlanta.

The Colts also requested permission to interview Seattle co-directors of player personnel Trent Kirchner and Scott Fitterer, USA Today reported. Kirchern and Fitterer also interviewed with the 49ers. Kirchner pulled his name from consideration, while the 49ers informed Fitterer he would not be asked back for a second interview.

The Colts fired general manager Ryan Grigson on Saturday. Owner Jim Irsay said Indianapolis’ vice president of football operations Jimmy Raye III would be a candidate. The 49ers also interviewed Raye, who was informed he would not be included in a second round of interviews.

Arizona vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough is the other known candidate for the 49ers’ general manager position that opened when the firing of Trent Baalke was announced at the conclusion of the team’s 2-14 season.

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.