No. 3: 49ers Defensive End Solomon Thomas
On one hand, defensive end Solomon Thomas is a player fans should root for. The Niners did him zero favors by playing him out of position his rookie year after using the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on him.
That stunted his development, for sure. And the tragic loss of his sister, Ella, the following season cast a looming shadow over Thomas’ career. It’s impossible to gauge just how much an effect that had on him.
But in the cruel-world context of the NFL, which is far more “what have you done for me lately?” than anything else, Thomas’ lack of production on the field is what’s being judged most. Top-five picks in the draft are supposed to be cornerstone pieces, perennial Pro Bowlers who’ll eventually earn consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thomas’ six career sacks suggest anything but, and San Francisco’s subsequent defensive line additions in Round 1 over all but one of the following years since attest to the team’s mistake taking Thomas.
In fairness to Thomas, he’ll still have a vital role in 2020 as both an interior backup and potential base-down defensive end.
Yet that’s not the value for which the 49ers were hoping, and fans will be more than happy to let Thomas test the free-agent waters once his contract expires at the end of this season.