Issue No. 1: The Pass Rush, or Lack Thereof
If you take DeForest Buckner out of the equation, San Francisco’s pass rush would be absolutely terrible in 2018.
Buckner, in two games this year, has already eclipsed the three sacks he had last season. And he’s been the regular pocket-wrecking force most of us anticipated he would be.
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Aside from Buckner, though, the Niners haven’t exactly generated a lot of pressure at times when they needed it the most. Second-year pro Solomon Thomas, who was supposed to blossom after a disappointing rookie year, has found himself coming out on passing downs in favor of EDGE Cassius Marsh.
Meanwhile, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco’s breakdown of Thomas on KNBR 680 was pretty telling:
"I don’t know that it (surprises me), because I don’t know that he’s a greatly above-average player at anything. I think he does have a high motor, he can get after the quarterback a little bit but that’s as an inside pass rusher where it’s typically difficult to put up big sack numbers. He’s pretty good against the run, but he’s not dominant against the run. He’s not your typical No. 3 overall pick in that sense."
Not anything close to the production one would expect out of the No. 3 overall NFL Draft pick from 2017.
Combined with the lack of a true edge presence, the 49ers have struggled to get pressure on both the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins and the Lions’ Matthew Stafford.
Outside of Buckner and, at times, Marsh.
Thomas flashed some promise midway through his rookie season but struggled with consistency. Being removed on passing downs takes away his chances, however, meaning it will be difficult for him to bounce back and reassume a prominent role in the 49ers defense.
Based off what we’ve seen so far, it’s going to be a difficult task for Thomas to achieve.
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