SANTA CLARA -- What rookie linebacker Aaron Lynch lacks in experience, he makes up for with a rare combination of size, speed and strength.

All of that was on full display Sunday as Lynch used his 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame to bat away two passes at the line of scrimmage, record one of the 49ers' three sacks and post three tackles in the 49ers' 21-7 exhibition victory over the San Diego Chargers.

"He's coming along pretty darned good," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said of the first of his team's two fifth-round draft picks in May. "We got high hopes for him."

Ideally, the 49ers would use this season to bring along Lynch slowly, let him acclimate to life in the NFL and get well versed in Vic Fangio's defense.

However, it's possible that the 49ers will lose starting outside linebacker Aldon Smith to a suspension by the league for off-field transgressions.

If that happens, the 49ers will be looking up and down their roster for someone, anyone, to fill the void while their leading sack artist is sidelined.

Lynch counts as an intriguing option, given his ability to manhandle offensive linemen, run around blockers and get his hands in the way of passes before they reach their target.

"He has potential," 49ers safety Eric Reid said. "With time and experience, our coaching will be able to bring it out of him. We see a lot of good things from him, and we're looking for him to keep getting better."


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Lynch's work ethic in college got called into question on occasion. No one has complained about such since Lynch arrived out of the University of South Florida.

"I just try to make good habits in practice so that it will carry over onto the field," Lynch said. "If I go hard in practice, I'll be able to go hard in the game. If you're lazy in practice, you'll be a little bit lackadaisical in the game."

Harbaugh called Lynch a good listener, which is fitting because Lynch talked at length about picking the brains of fellow linebackers Smith and Ahmad Brooks.

In particular, Lynch said he is honing his bull-rush technique, which calls for a combination of speed and brute strength.

That's the technique employed by Lynch on Sunday when he sacked Brad Sorensen in the fourth quarter despite a blocker's arm wrapped around Lynch's neck.

"Everybody is going to try the best they can to try to stop you from getting to the passer," Lynch said. "There's going to be holding that doesn't get called. There's going to be hands to the face that doesn't get called. You keep going and don't give up."

Lynch said he even has a plan to combat repeat offenders.

"If he does it again, you just be a little more physical with him and just keep going on."

So far, there's no slowing down Lynch.