No. 3: EDGE Pita Taumoepenu
As is the case with defensive lineman Noble Nwachukwu, edge rusher Pita Taumoepenu is probably best suited for San Francisco’s practice squad his rookie season.
Taumoepenu, a sixth-round draft pick of the 49ers this season, had a pretty impressive senior year at Utah — logging nine sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.
These numbers are promising for the 6-foot-1, 243-pound pass-rusher, but it’s impossible to overlook just how raw Taumoepenu is when compared to NFL-level EDGEs.
Taumoepenu got off to a slow start at training camp, per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco, but did manage to flash some promise later on:
This is good, but the Niners are already pretty crowded along the defensive line and on the edge. Veterans like Arik Armstead, Aaron Lynch and Elvis Dumervil are more favorable options to secure the right defensive end, or LEO, spot in San Francisco’s defense.
The Niners’ release of veteran SAM linebacker Ahmad Brooks, however, could increase the rookie’s chances. But it’s likely San Francisco views Taumoepenu as more of a LEO, putting him in a deeper competition with Armstead, Lynch and Dumervil.
These three make Taumoepenu a bit of an excess commodity, but the 49ers would be wise to stash him on the practice squad in an attempt to further develop the rookie’s skill set.