No. 4: Get an Elite Pass Rush Going
Last year, the 49ers were tied at 22nd with just 37 sacks. Twelve of those came from defensive tackle DeForest Buckner along the interior. He could have had more if the Niners boasted a quality outside pass rush, which they didn’t.
Without Buckner’s sharp rise in sack production, San Francisco’s defensive front would have been abysmal against the pass. Football Outsiders ranked the 49ers defensive line 17th against the pass, posting an adjusted sack rate of 6.9 percent.
The middle-of-the-pack ranking here is a good thing, though, as it highlights Buckner’s importance. Yet with two other former first-round NFL Draft picks along the line — Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead — one would have hoped this unit performed even better last year.
What’s needed is a quality outside pass-rusher. Fortunately, the Niners own the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft, and this year’s class is deep with edge rushers. It would be prudent for San Francisco to grab one, perhaps two of these pass-rushers this offseason.
If the quarterback is the league’s most important position on the field, a top-tier pass-rusher is the second most crucial.
The 49ers don’t have one on the outside yet. If they want to make it to the Super Bowl, they’ll need one.