49ers depth chart: 4 players who benefit from no preseason

Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
Dante Pettis #18 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
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Solomon Thomas, 49ers
Solomon Thomas #94 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

No. 3: 49ers Defensive End Solomon Thomas

Like Daniel Brunskill, fourth-year defensive end Solomon Thomas is going to have a spot on the 53-man roster in 2020, if for no other reason than the final year of his rookie deal warrants it. Removing him from the roster would cost nearly $9 million in dead money, and no other team would be willing to dish out NFL Draft capital to trade for him at that price.

Also like Brunskill, Thomas’ immediate future is going to be defined more by the role he plays in 2020. And that’s less certain than one might think.

There’s a possibility Thomas winds up starting this season, as the 49ers look to bring along their top pick from this year’s draft, South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw, slowly. Or Thomas could be relegated to a primary reserve role like he’s been the past two years.

But placement on the 49ers depth chart is what matters most here. San Francisco is somewhat shorthanded along the defensive line, especially considering players returning from injury (Jullian Taylor, Ronald Blair, Kentavius Street, etc.).

Those three could all return and start practicing in training camp, yes. Yet Thomas wouldn’t have to worry as much about a player like Taylor, Street, Darrion Daniels or Alex Barrett totally outshining him during the preseason now.

As a result, Thomas could expect to see an uptick from the 41 percent of defensive snaps he saw last year, at least in the early phases of the regular season.