SF 49ers: Position report-card grades halfway through 2020

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kerry Hyder, Javon Kinlaw, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (99) Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers Defensive Line


Here’s where the “curve” comes into a bit of play.

Much like the secondary, injuries have completely altered the expectation level of San Francisco’s defensive line. Nick Bosa is out for the year. Fellow EDGE Dee Ford is dealing with a back injury and could miss the rest of 2020. Supplementary pass-rushers like Ronald Blair also haven’t taken a snap this season.

As a result, EDGE Kerry Hyder has found himself the team leader in sacks with 4.5.

That’s one of the positives influencing this group’s C-plus grade. In total, the SF 49ers are still doing a good job preventing opponents’ rushing attacks from gaining headway. And despite the lack of clear-cut pass-rushers, the Niners are still getting pressure on 24.6 percent of opposing dropbacks — good for fifth best in the league. Granted, a lot of this had to come by the way of blitzes and schemed pressure, but it’s been somewhat effective when it has to be.

There have been disappointments, though.

Rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, San Francisco’s top pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, has yet to record his first pro-level sack and owns a somewhat-disappointing 57.4 overall Pro Football Focus grade. Likewise, defensive end Arik Armstead, who led the 49ers defense with 10 sacks last year, has just 1.5 this season.

In general, the Niners D-line doesn’t have the speed to take down quarterbacks, rather relying on the pressure generated to force early throws. When it has worked, great. But it hasn’t always worked, as San Francisco is still allowing 6.4 yards per pass attempt — 16th in the league.