No. 1: SF 49ers Defensive Line
Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Kevin Givens, Kerry Hyder Jr. , D.J. Jones, Javon Kinlaw, Kentavius Street and Solomon Thomas
Once again, the 49ers defensive line remains the No. 1 unit and top strength for the team entering the regular season, just like it was a year ago at this time.
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The Niners D-line starters are still comprised of four former first-round NFL Draft picks: Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and, most recently, Javon Kinlaw. Kinlaw is hoping to fill the void left by Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts during the offseason.
Yet Kinlaw might take a little time to get acclimated and to hone his pass-rushing skill set, opening the door for another former first-round pick, Solomon Thomas, to see some substantial field time, especially early on this season.
Meanwhile, nose tackle D.J. Jones could be in line for a breakout season after an abbreviated impressive campaign on base downs in 2019.
San Francisco did have to adjust for some depth, though, putting defensive ends Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor on injured lists to start the season as they’re still recovering from torn ACLs suffered late last year. This opened the door for fellow pass-rushers Kerry Hyder and Kentavius Street to make the 53-man roster.
Both Hyder and Street may occupy significant roles for the 49ers this season, as a solid rotation up front will be crucial for the D-line’s overall success.
But this unit is still defined by the big four who are expected to be massive contributors in 2020.