No. 4: 49ers Finish Top 3 in Sack Production
If Javon Kinlaw has an outstanding rookie season, there’s little reason to expect the Niners won’t come close to their impressive sack totals from a year ago.
Despite how strong San Francisco’s pass rush was in 2019, there were a few surprises. For starters, the team only tied for fifth in sacks (48) with the Minnesota Vikings. Teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers all had more, although the fact none of them made the playoffs last year suggests sacks in of themselves aren’t the ultimate stat.
Still, it’s better to have a pass rush than not, right?
The other surprise was Arik Armstead, not Nick Bosa or Dee Ford, leading the 49ers defense with 10 sacks. Considering he never had more than three in a single season beforehand, 2019 was quite the revelation.
Let’s assume things come together for San Francisco entirely in 2020. Armstead maintains his prowess as a pass-rusher, while Bosa improves on his already exemplary rookie season. A hopeful caveat would be Ford staying healthy and not missing five regular-season games, which would allow him to massively improve on his 6.5 sack campaign from a year ago.
While it’s impossible to completely gauge how the rest of the league’s pass-rushers stack up, let’s assume the combination of the Niners defensive front produces a top-three pass rush in 2020.