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South Florida coach resigns after tweet about 49ers’ selection of Aaron Lynch

05/13/2014 6:21 PM

05/21/2014 8:17 PM

A University of South Florida strength coach who criticized the 49ers for drafting a former player was suspended by the school before resigning Tuesday.

The 49ers selected defensive end Aaron Lynch, a 6-foot-5, 249-pound redshirt sophomore, in the fifth round Saturday. Lynch admitted that concerns about his character affected his draft stock, and after the selection USF strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub went to Twitter.

“Thought an organization with 5 Super Bowl titles would have a stricter draft criteria,” Straub wrote in a tweet that has been removed. “Clearly, integrity & character are not a priority.”

Athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement: “USF Athletics has high expectations for each and every student-athlete, coach and staff member. To that end, I have accepted the resignation of Hans Straub from the position of head strength and conditioning coach. I thank him for his contributions to USF Athletics and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Lynch was a freshman first-team All-American at Notre Dame in 2011 but transferred to South Florida, sat out a year and then did not perform nearly as well in 2013.

Lynch, who visited the 49ers last month, had the backing of South Florida coach Willie Taggart, who is friends with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Taggart was an assistant for Harbaugh at Stanford, and Harbaugh was the best man at Taggart’s wedding.

“He believes that this is a good young man,” Harbaugh said of a pre-draft 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. (Taggart) feels that he’ll thrive in that kind of environment.”

Said Taggart on Tuesday when asked about Straub’s tweet: “Very disappointed in the tweet that you’re talking about. Hans knows how disappointed I am. ... Our football team knows how disappointed I am.”

Linebackers coach Jim Leavitt, who once coached at USF, also is familiar with Lynch. He and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke met with Lynch last month when he visited the team.

“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.”

For the 49ers, the past year has been full of embarrassing police-blotter events, including an airport arrest of outside linebacker Aldon Smith, who already is facing DUI and weapons charges. Outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks was investigated after striking a teammate with a beer bottle but wasn’t charged.

In a conference call Saturday, Lynch acknowledged missteps in the past but did not go into detail.

“Just most mistakes that most people my age make,” he said. “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.”

About This Blog

Matt Barrows 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 Sacramento Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the San Francisco 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green. Reach Barrows at mbarrows@sacbee.com.
Twitter: @mattbarrows

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