How will the 49ers utilize Nick Bosa and Dee Ford on defense in 2019?
By Chris Wilson
By drafting DE Nick Bosa and trading for EDGE Dee Ford, the San Francisco 49ers addressed a glaring defensive need that haunted the team last season. How do the Niners plan on using their new pair of edge rushers in 2019?
San Francisco 49ers defensive linemanDeForest Buckner had a Pro Bowl season in 2018, as the third-year 3-technique defensive tackle racked up 12 sacks over 16 games, despite facing double-teams and extra focus from opposing offensive lines throughout the season.
Buckner, a 3-4 defensive end before he transitioned inside, is the lone success story from a 49ers squad that has continued to attempt to fit square pegs into round roles — and particularly on the team’s defensive line.
49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan inherited Buckner, a first-round draft pick in 2016 who showed significant promise during his six-sack rookie season. It wasn’t long before the defensive lineman became one of the NFL’s best players at his position.
The duo also inherited 2015 first-round defensive lineman Arik Armstead, who has experienced a far bumpier road over his four seasons in the league. The 49ers’ decision to move the 6-foot-7, 292-pound lineman to the outside to be the team’s top edge rusher was, unsurprisingly, a massive failure.
Lynch and Shanahan’s first draft pick was another defensive lineman — Solomon Thomas — who has yet to find his niche after two seasons of mediocre play that has fallen well short of expectations for a No. 3 overall selection.
Aged defensive end Elvis Dumervil provided the 49ers’ new regime with some contribution from the outside, but only for a single season. The decision to release Dumervil for the likes of special-teamers Cassius Marsh and Dekoda Watson didn’t work out according to plan, nor did the use of SAM linebacker Eli Harold in obvious pass-rushing situations. All four players are now playing elsewhere, or not at all.
But after two rough seasons, Lynch and Shanahan finally came to their senses over the 2019 offseason. Instead of trying to manufacture edge rushers, the San Francisco 49ers traded for one of the NFL’s premier pass-rushing specialists, and then used the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to select another elite EDGE prospect.
The 49ers’ cupboard was bare, but after adding two top talents in Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, it’s now filled to the brim. So how will the Niners utilize their new pair of edge rushers in 2019?