No. 5: DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas Have Two Sacks Apiece
OK, so we’re going bold. Not safe.
San Francisco 49ers
Especially considering both players had just three sacks each over the entirety of last season.
But there’s a reason to suspect the 49ers’ interior pass rush is potent enough this year. Particularly in this game too. And it all starts with a questionable Vikings offensive line.
Starting center Pat Elflein (ankle) is doubtful for the contest. His immediate backup, Brett Jones, is also nursing an ankle injury but is expected to play. While Jones’ pass-blocking abilities have been solid over his two-year career, being able to pivot and plant on a bad ankle is one of the most problematic things for an offensive lineman in a reactive block, such as pass blocking.
Plus, with Buckner having led the entire NFL last year in quarterback hits among interior defensive linemen (19), per Pro Football Focus, one can see how pressure against Jones could get home.
Thomas also looked excellent in his interior pass-rushing abilities this preseason, picking up three hurries and a sack on 28 pass-rushing snaps, according to PFF.
Look for both players to be a key factor in Sunday’s bout.