No. 5: Defensive Line
San Francisco’s defensive line was arguably the strongest and deepest portion of the team’s roster a year ago, and yet it could undergo some serious changes between now and training camp.
Chief among the wonders is the situation with EDGE Arik Armstead, who led the defense with 10 sacks in 2019. He’s a pending free agent, yet the Niners are reportedly working on a deal to bring him back long term.
If that doesn’t pan out, there’s the window for a franchise tag.
The 49ers won’t address their D-line with big-name external free agents. But there are some depth issues to wonder about. Defensive linemen Sheldon Day and Ronald Blair are among the bigger backup names poised to hit the free-agent market, too. Blair, who suffered a torn ACL midway through the regular season, has been a regular part of the rotation since being drafted back in 2016.
It would be one thing if the Niners could count on the services of ancillary linemen, such as Kentavius Street or Jullian Taylor, to provide an adequate replacement. But neither of those two has carved out a notable role just yet.
And if Armstead ultimately departs, the rotational situation could wind up being more pressing than initially thought.
One might expect San Francisco to target a one-time high-profile prospect, such as defensive end Noah Spence, who spent last season with the New Orleans Saints, as a potential low-budget flier.