No. 1: Defensive Line
The 49ers defensive line was deep in 2017 and 2018, yet it was only marginally exceptional. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was essentially the only standout from the trio of former first-round draft picks, which also included Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas.
Buckner, whose 12 sacks last year earned him Pro Bowl honors, got a lot of additional help during the offseason.
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Two of San Francisco’s biggest moves were to acquire edge rusher Dee Ford via a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, then adding arguably college football’s top prospect, Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa, with the No. 2 overall pick this year.
Add them all up, the Niners now have five first-round draftees along the D-line entering 2019.
One of those five is going to be subbed out on every play, likely Ford on running downs and Thomas on passing downs. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the added rotation serves to keep the others fresh over a full 16-game season.
And that’s only another reason why the 49ers defensive line is expected to be dominant in 2019.
Additionally, one can expect San Francisco’s sack totals, which were at 37 last season (tied for 22nd), should see a dramatic spike this year.
If so, the Niners defense should also benefit from the uptick in up-front production, too.