San Francisco 49ers: Ranking Each Position by Strength Entering 2016
The 49ers defensive line is the clear-cut strongest unit of the team. It has difference makers in the interior in tackles Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey. There is quality depth behind them with rookie standout Arik Armstead, Quinton Dial and Tony Jerod-Eddie.
There is also the nice mix of youth and experience, leadership and savvy.
The outside of the line isn’t quite as strong, though typically the line is rotated depending on the defensive scheme. The outside will be better in 2016 with the additions of No. 7 overall draft pick DeForest Buckner and fifth-round pick Ronald Blair.
Both Buckner and Blair have the ability to overpower their direct opponent and get to the quarterback. In 2015, Buckner had 10.5 sacks and 83 tackles (17.0 for loss) for Oregon. Blair had 7.5 sacks and 71 tackles (19.0 for loss).
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When you combine these guys with outside linebackers in Lynch and Brooks, and the interior line, 2016 promises a 49er revival in getting to the QB.
After only achieving 28 sacks last season (compared with 36 in 2014), the combined depth and talent, in addition to better defensive schemes, should result in an improved sack total in 2016. The 49ers should be aiming for 40-plus sacks as a team. If this defensive line continues to be the strength of the team, this is a very achievable goal.
Next: San Francisco 49ers: 5 Best Position Battles to Watch in Camp
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated.