No. 2: Massive Opportunity for Solomon Thomas
Moving on from older, more-expensive players in return for younger, cheaper ones is the nature of the NFL.
The 49ers have a tough challenge in replacing the production from DeForest Buckner. But one player who stands to benefit a lot, at least in the immediate future, is another former first-round NFL Draft pick, defensive end Solomon Thomas.
Thomas will likely never live up to being selected at No. 3 overall in the draft. And there’s probably no chance San Francisco picks up his fifth-year option, either.
Yet Thomas, who is due just over $9 million in 2020, could end up seeing a good deal of snaps on the inside of the Niners defensive line — the area in which Thomas has shown the most prowess despite frequently being played on the outside his three years at the pro level.
It’s a long shot to suggest Thomas will come close to Buckner’s production. But as Niner Noise’s Akshaj Dwivedula pointed out, this is about as good a do-or-die situation Thomas could ask for.
And San Francisco will ultimately have its final answer on Thomas by year’s end.