49ers Defensive Line Roster Predictions and Depth Chart
There are few, if any, starting jobs along San Francisco’s defensive line up for grabs. In base formations, DeForest Buckner handles the 3-technique, Earl Mitchell the 1-technique, Solomon Thomas the 5-technique (LEO) and Arik Armstead the other 5-technique (big end).
Things change in sub packages, of course, with Thomas moving inside and Mitchell coming off the field. To supply the edge rush, the 49ers will turn to Jeremiah Attaochu and Cassius Marsh.
While both have flashed promise at various points in their careers, the two have a combined 16 sacks over the past four years. Not exactly a look of encouragement. Hopefully, the Niners’ interior pass rush will be good enough.
Lost in the shuffle a bit is Armstead, who missed all but six games last season with a broken hand. Last year, Pro Football Focus gave Armstead a 7.9 pass-rush productivity rating, which isn’t far behind Buckner’s 8.2 mark. And in 2016, Armstead’s PRP was 11.2.
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Moving to the big end should put Armstead in the best position to succeed since joining the NFL.
As for the rest of the depth chart?
- DeForest Buckner
- Solomon Thomas
- Earl Mitchell
- Arik Armstead
- Cassius Marsh
- Jeremiah Attaochu
- Sheldon Day
- D.J. Jones
- Ronald Blair
Projected backup players listed in italics.
This is for a base defense, and we’ll obviously see pass-rushers, like Attaochu and Marsh, come in for sub packages and pass-rushing situations.
Both Sheldon Day and Ronald Blair get the not due to their ability to occupy various positions along the defensive line. That’s crucial. And 2017 rookie D.J. Jones flashed enough promise to be more than just a serviceable backup to Mitchell.
If it all works out well, the Niners D-line could finally wind up reaching a fuller potential this season. If not, it wouldn’t be a shock if San Francisco uses yet another first-round pick on the line in 2019, likely for a quality edge rusher.