“If I’m the 49ers, I Would…”: Steps to Rebuild San Francisco in 2016
By Peter Panacy
If I were the 49ers, I would give LB Eli Harold and DE DeForest Buckner starting gigs in Week 1
So if veteran linebacker Ahmad Brooks is out of the picture — this is autocratic after all — who takes his place?
The answer: fellow outside linebacker Eli Harold.
Harold saw limited action his rookie season a year ago. But he still managed a respectable minus-0.9 overall grade, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which is a great step above Brooks’ minus-10.2 overall mark.
Remember, Harold is a guy who registered 17.5 sacks over three collegiate years at Virginia. And considering the 49ers pass rush ranked 29th in the NFL last year with 28 sacks, San Francisco needs all the pass-rushing help it can get.
Tie this in with the 49ers’ first-round draft pick defensive end DeForest Buckner. As noted earlier, teams typically need immediate production from Round 1 talent. Buckner is a force and, at 6’7″, will help bookend a promising defensive line for years to come.
Why not start that process as soon as possible?
Plus, the Niners defense will be what keeps them competitive within the NFC West this year. There are far more weapons on that side of the ball — NFL-ready ones too.
And Buckner’s return needs to be felt right away. Let the rest of the D-line shape itself up after that. It isn’t as if this unit won’t be able to share snaps.
Next: Leave the QB Competition Open All Season