The San Francisco 49ers defensive line has some questions after trading away DeForest Buckner, meaning third-year pro Kentavius Street will be under the microscope in 2020.
It was a bit of a shocker the San Francisco 49ers used a fourth-round pick on former North Carolina State defensive tackle Kentavius Street in the 2018 NFL Draft. After all, Street was coming off a torn ACL suffered during his pro day, and the Niners’ previous attempts to draft and stash injured players hadn’t exactly gone well.
After redshirting his rookie season, Street was expected to provide some kind of impact in 2019. Yet San Francisco placed him back on injured reserve before the regular season, eventually activating him in December before returning him to IR in early January.
So far, Street’s NFL journey has been little more than a lost cause. Yet the context of the 49ers defensive line entering this season is vastly different than it was in either the previous two years.
The Niners’ blockbuster trade of Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, combined with losing backup defensive lineman Sheldon Day in free agency, opens up some notable starting and depth question marks along the D-line. Buckner’s absence creates the biggest void, of course, and San Francisco will likely be forced into using a rotation in the wake of his departure.
This thinning out of the 49ers D-line depth creates arguably the best chance Street has had to make an impact since being drafted.
Now, the question is whether or not the 6-foot-2, 287-pound lineman can seize it.
There’s no doubting Street’s strength. A video out there shows Street squatting 700 pounds, and one can only imagine that kind of prowess along the interior of the D-line. But the injury which hindered him for the better part of the last two seasons casts some doubt about him being able to be an essential part of the rotation.
Depending on what the Niners do in the upcoming NFL Draft, as well as if the team brings aboard any depth free agents, Street will likely enter training camp with the third-string defensive linemen. It’s not hard to think he can jump up to the second-squad unit with some impressive performances, but even that might not be enough to assume a regular-season roster spot. He’ll have to compete with fellow depth linemen Kevin Givens and Kerry Hyder, among others, to solidify that kind of role.
At any rate, the time between now and the end of the preseason will be crucial for Street to prove his value to San Francisco, which should at least start looking back at that fourth-round selection and wonder whether or not it was a good idea to go with the risk of drafting the talented-yet-injured lineman.