San Francisco 49ers: Predicting 53-man roster after 2020 NFL Draft

Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt #29 and free safety Jimmie Ward #20 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt #29 and free safety Jimmie Ward #20 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Nick Bosa, 49ers
Nick Bosa #97 San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Defensive Line (9)

Nick Bosa

Dee Ford

Arik Armstead

Ronald Blair III

DJ Jones

Javon Kinlaw

Solomon Thomas

Kerry Hyder

Kentavius Street or Jullian Taylor

One of the calling cards of last year’s Super Bowl team was the relentless nature of the defensive line.

Featuring five former first-round draft picks in DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, and rookie EDGE rusher Nick Bosa, the 49ers front office built a dominant defense that finished the season ranked second in Defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.

If trading Buckner to the Colts for the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft only to turn around and essentially draft his replacement with that selection is any indication, the plan for 2020 remains the same.

With that in mind, the bulk of the contributors from last year’s defensive line is returning: Bosa, Ford, Armstead and his new contract, and Thomas, along with depth guys like defensive end Ronald Blair and defensive tackle D.J. Jones.

Newcomers are first-round draft pick defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina, who will attempt to replicate some of Buckner’s production, along with free-agent EDGE Kerry Hyder, who will provide depth behind Ford and Bosa.

Beyond that, I’d expect there to be one spot for either defensive tackle Kentavius Street, a former fourth-round draft pick out of North Carolina State back in 2018 who has played in just three career games while struggling through injury, or defensive tackle Jullian Taylor, a former seventh-round pick out of Temple in 2018.

Street hasn’t really been a factor for the team since tearing his ACL during a pre-draft workout prior to the 2018 NFL Draft and dealing with setbacks most of last season, while Taylor tore his ACL during practice in late December 2019. Street was eventually placed on IR to finish last year when linebacker Kwon Alexander returned for the playoffs.

Those injuries may open up opportunities for players like defensive tackle Kevin Givens, defensive end Jonathan Kongbo or defensive lineman Willie Henry to make the roster, but expect the total number of defensive lineman to hit nine one way or another.