San Francisco 49ers

Looking for Leo: 49ers hope Phase 3 helps them find pass rusher

Michigan quarterback Shane Morris, front center, tries to avoid a sack in his own end zone from Utah linebacker Pita Taumoepenu (50) in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Sept. 20, 2014.
Michigan quarterback Shane Morris, front center, tries to avoid a sack in his own end zone from Utah linebacker Pita Taumoepenu (50) in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Sept. 20, 2014. Associated Press file

John Lynch said Tuesday the 49ers’ transition to phase 3 of the offseason program will help them sort out the all-important “Leo” pass rusher position.

“We’ve had these Phase 2 workouts where you can’t do a whole lot,” the 49ers general manager said. “Now you get to go out there and have some team periods and get to see how everyone really fits. I think it’s exciting but it’s part of our challenge to say, ‘OK, who fits where?’ We’ve got our thoughts. But sometimes our thoughts change when you put them out there.”

Lynch said coaches are considering former first-round draft pick Arik Armstead as the “base” Leo, the defensive end who lines up on the weak side of the formation and who usually is the best pass rusher on the squad.

“We love his flexibility, the ability to move inside,” Lynch said. “With our front, that’s kind of the neat thing for us. There’s a lot of moving parts, there’s a lot of guys who have versatility to their games.”

He mentioned Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Aaron Lynch and rookie Pita Tuamoepenu, who was selected in the sixth round, as others who will be worked into the rotation. The 49ers think Taumoepenu, who wasn’t exposed to football until he was 17 years old, is a good fit because he has a relentlessness that is essential to the position.

“That’s the beauty of starting anew,” Lynch said. “It’s kind of like open competition: Let’s go see who can do it. (Taumoepenu) will have an opportunity just like everyone else will.”

The 49ers had their first OTA practice of the offseason on Monday. Today’s practice – which begins at noon – will be open to the media.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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