Right Defensive End (LEO): Aaron Lynch
Right Defensive Tackle: DeForest Buckner
Nose Tackle: Earl Mitchell
Left Defensive End: Solomon Thomas
Buckner earned some high praise from Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett earlier this offseason, and anyone who watched the former Oregon product can attest to Buckner’s potential in year two of his pro career.
San Francisco 49ers
And Thomas, San Francisco’s first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, could have just as high a ceiling.
Yet the remaining competition should be pretty fierce.
One might assume Earl Mitchell, another one of John Lynch’s early free-agent pickups, earns the starting nose tackle job. Perhaps, although it wouldn’t be a shock to see more from fellow NT Chris Jones, who has turned heads during offseason workouts. Still, Mitchell probably starts in Week 1.
The right defensive end, or LEO spot, has been one of speculation and intrigue all offseason. That’s because the Niners lack a true, elite-level pass-rusher.
In an ideal world, EDGE Aaron Lynch would get the nod here. He still does in this prediction. But weight concerns have diminished his stock heading into camp, and San Francisco also picked up edge rusher Elvis Dumervil — sitting on 99 career sacks — as a situational pass-rusher.
Tack on defensive end Arik Armstead, and one can easily see how this spot is crowded.
Lynch gets the start to open up the season, but he’s on a short leash.