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May 13, 2014
Report: USF assistant suspended after questioning 49ers' selection of Aaron Lynch


The University of South Florida's strength and conditioning coach reportedly has been suspended for a tweet he made about the 49ers' fifth-round selection of former Bulls' defender Aaron Lynch.

Read the tweet from Hans Straub, which has since been removed: "Thought an organization with 5 Super Bowl titles would have a stricter draft criteria. Clearly, integrity & character are not a priority."

Josh Newberg of 247Sports, citing unnamed sources, first reported the suspension. NFL teams typically turn to college strength coaches for background on a prospect, especially that prospect's work ethic and demeanor.

The 49ers acknowledged that Lynch, who left Notre Dame for USF after an impressive 2011 season and then had only a middling 2013 year with the Bulls, had red flags. But Lynch had the backing of USF head coach Willie Taggart, a former assistant at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh and one of Harbaugh's close friends. Taggart spoke up for Lynch prior to the draft.

"He believes that this is a good young man," Harbaugh said of his conversation with Taggart. "(Lynch) needs direction. He needs good structure around him where he's got guys, men that he would look up to. That he would have a chance to emulate. Feels that he'll thrive in that kind of environment."

Said Taggart when asked about Straub's tweet today: "Very disappointed in the tweet that you're talking about. Hans knows how disappointed I am. ... Our football team knows how disappointed I am." The quote was provided by the school's athletic communications department.

Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who once coached at USF, also was familiar with Lynch, a 6-6, 255 defensive end who will compete at outside linebacker for the 49ers. Lynch visited Santa Clara last month and met extensively with Leavitt and general manager Trent Baalke.

"I think you need to dig into him a little bit more," Baalke said. "This isn't a young man that has a rap sheet that you're dealing with. He's not a young man that's been in a lot of trouble. He's made some mistakes. He's got to do some things differently. He understands that and we as an organization understand that.

"We have a structure here, a system here, that we feel we can help him," Baalke continued. "But ultimately it comes down to the individual, as we all know. With Aaron it will be a process, but a process that we're comfortable he will be able to endure and flourish in."

The 49ers' offseason has been full of embarrassing police-blotter events, including an airport arrest of outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who is already is facing DUI and weapons charges. Another outside linebacker, Ahmad Brooks, was investigated after striking a teammate with a beer bottle last year. He never was charged.

Lynch, meanwhile, was removed from the draft board of at least one team because of character concerns. He acknowledged missteps in the past while on a conference call with the reporters. He did not go into detail.

"Regular mistakes a person at my age makes," he said. "Just most mistakes that most people my age make. They weren't mistakes like robbing, things like that. But, they're mistakes that weren't supposed to happen associated with football and I chose to do those things so those things hurt me in the end. But, I'm just happy that my opportunity is finally--I've been waiting my whole life to be drafted. This is my dream and I don't know how to express how I'm feeling right now, it's just amazing. First round, seventh round, it doesn't matter."

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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