10 Areas of Hope, Concern for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016
By Peter Panacy
The Pass Rush
Tank Carradine’s switch from an ineffective 3-4 defensive end to EDGE should be a bonus. And with the Niners reinforcing their defensive line via the 2016 NFL Draft, the 49ers pass rush should also see some invigoration from the anemic efforts a year ago.
San Francisco’s best pass-rusher is still linebacker Aaron Lynch. But he’ll be joined by first-round draft pick DeForest Buckner, who made a name for himself with 18 collegiate sacks at the University of Oregon.
And if Carradine, along with second-year pro Eli Harold, can get the ball rolling on quarterback pressure, this group could see a major turnaround this season.
Room for Hope
Simply stated, the defensive line is better. Buckner, Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial comprise a passing-situation D-line, which will hopefully open up the necessary lanes for the 49ers crop of pass-rushers.
Lynch, who was tied for the team lead last season with 6.5 sacks, could easily break the double-digit sack plateau this year.
And he may get help from guys like Carradine and Harold too, which should only take the pressure off Lynch from opposing blockers.
Oh, and we can’t overlook rookie defensive end Ronald Blair either.
Room for Concern
The 49ers are coming off a season in which they generated a mere 28 sacks — good for 29th in the entire NFL.
And it isn’t as if the team added a whopping plethora of pass-rushers during the offseason. Success will hinge on whether or not guys like Buckner, Armstead and Dial can occupy blockers, as well as guys like Lynch, Harold and Carradine taking advantage of said situations.
It’s also entirely possible Carradine doesn’t fit the bill in his new role. And the book remains out on Harold for now.
If these two aren’t cutting it, expectations on Lynch will be all the more higher. Help, anyone?
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