The 49ers didn't exactly ease Aaron Lynch back into the lineup in his first game back from suspension. He played 35 snaps against the Cardinals, more than any other outside linebacker on the squad. Eli Harold played 32, starter Ahmad Brooks had 28 while Tank Carradine had nine. Carradine suffered a toe injury in the first half and did not return to the game.
On the defensive line, neither Glenn Dorsey (knee) nor DeForest Buckner (foot) played on the short week, though neither injury is considered long-term. That left Arik Armstead as the snap-count leader among d-linemen, an honor that had belonged to Buckner in the first four games. He played 62 of 68 defensive plays, followed by Quinton Dial (40), Mike Purcell (29), Ronald Blair (25), Taylor Hart (20) and Tony Jerod-Eddie (6)
Blair's snap count was a season high as he took over some of the jobs Buckner usually performs. He finished with one quarterback hit. It was interesting that Hart, a relative newcomer, played more snaps than Jerod-Eddie. Hart was in uniform for the first time all season and finished with two tackles. Dial led all defensive linemen with five tackles.
Nick Bellore, making his first-ever start, was one of five players who played every snap. The others were cornerback Rashard Robinson, safety Eric Reid and safety Antoine Bethea. Bellore was full of energy and led the team with nine tackles. But he also whiffed on a few and should be better in coming games as he adjusts to being a starter.
On offense, receiver Jeremy Kerley played every snap and, in terms of attention, continues to widen the game between him and the team’s other pass catchers. Kerley obviously has become Blaine Gabbert's favorite target and on Thursday he was the first 49ers receiver to go over 100 yards in a game this season. He had eight catches for 102 yards.
Meanwhile, Torrey Smith was targeted once and finished with no catches. Quinton Patton had two catches for 16 yards. For the season, Kerley's catch total (26 for 304 yards) is double the next pass catcher, Carlos Hyde (13 for 66) and almost triple Smith's total (9-106).
Rookie Joshua Garnett got into the game at right guard in the fourth quarter. He ended up playing 18 snaps, all of them in place of Andrew Tiller.
Tight end Garrett Celek followed the best pass-catching day of his career (5 for 79 yards vs. Dallas) with perhaps his worst. Celek was targeted six times and finished with one catch for four yards. He had two obvious drops, both of which would have gone for first downs. The No. 2 tight end, Blake Bell, also had one catch for four yards in 15 snaps. For the second straight game, the third tight end, J'Ron Hamm, did not play on offense.