NFL

Corey Lemonier, among others, trying to fill Aldon Smith's void

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20: Corey Lemonier #96 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the passer during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Levi Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Chargers defeated the 49ers 38-35 in overtime. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 20: Corey Lemonier #96 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes the passer during the game against the San Diego Chargers at Levi Stadium on December 20, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Chargers defeated the 49ers 38-35 in overtime. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

The release of Aldon Smith leaves a big void in the middle of the defense for the 49ers.

Defensive coordinator Eric Mangini flat-out stated: "He's not a guy you can just replace."

So who could perhaps try to fill that void?

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Corey Lemonier, the team's third-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, appears to have first shot at winning the job outright.

Per ESPN Insider, Lemonier "has a prototypical 3-4 OLB build. He plays with a great motor and is relentless as a pass rusher, and flashes an explosive first step and ability to bend and shave the edge."

Coming out of Auburn, Lemonier recorded 98 tackles and 17 sacks. There was a drop in production from his sophomore to junior season, however (9.5 sacks to 5.5 and 5 forced fumbles to 1). He was billed as a fit in the Niners' defensive schemes when drafted, but Lemonier has yet to show much promise through two seasons.

Could 2015 be the year he finally breaks out?

(h/t ESPN)