SF 49ers: 5 best players over the first half of the season

Fred Warner #54 of the SF 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Fred Warner #54 of the SF 49ers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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Kerry Hyder, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 5: SF 49ers DL Kerry Hyder

Much of the fall of the 2020 SF 49ers can be attributed to the collapse of the depth at the defensive line.

Losing both edge rushers Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, along with defensive tackle Solomon Thomas for the whole of the season, has removed a lot of what made the defensive line so fearsome in 2019; not just the quality of players like Bosa, but also the number of quality players the Niners could throw at opposing offensive units.

The team has done its best to duct tape together a feasible defensive front, but missing true EDGE talent has pushed the SF 49ers back to the early days of the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch era, where quality players were at a premium, especially along that line.

The best player along the line in 2020 on a game-by-game basis has been journeyman defensive end Kerry Hyder, who has been forced to play out of position along the edge and has been mostly effective.

Hyder leads the team in sacks with 4.5 through nine games, although much of the havoc he’s wrecked has been independent of sacking the quarterback.

Pro Football Focus has marked Hyder with 31 total pressures in 2020, tied for 11th in the NFL at the position. And while the pressures are good, Hyder not being a natural rusher around the edge has been an issue.

The pass rush not getting home has been a problem as opposing quarterbacks have taken advantage of a defensive line that is missing that true edge presence.

In spite of that, Hyder has been impressive given that he’s well on his way to exceeding his career highs in snaps during the 2020 season. It would have been nice to see what Hyder was capable of doing alongside Bosa, Ford, and Thomas, but Hyder been the most effective player along the defensive line in any respect.