The SF 49ers already invested heavily in their defensive line, yet they need to do so again in the 2021 NFL Draft with these prospects.
Yes, the SF 49ers need to invest more NFL Draft capital into their defensive line, particularly within the pass-rushing department.
This, despite the Niners already using first-round picks on defensive linemen each year since 2015 with the lone exception of 2018’s Round 1 selection of offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey.
If the 2017 selection of defensive end Solomon Thomas panned out to better expectations, the team likely wouldn’t have traded for EDGE Dee Ford ahead of the 2019 season. But Thomas has been disappointing, while Ford has been notably injury prone and has appeared in only 12 regular-season games over the past two seasons.
Ford’s current contract will make it tough for San Francisco to part ways with him, either via a cut or trade, prior to June 1 of 2021. Yet his back concerns and the possibility he won’t step on the field at all for the rest of 2020 suddenly puts what’s been a lackluster Niners pass rush back at the forefront of needs in next year’s NFL Draft.
While it doesn’t seem too likely the SF 49ers will use yet another first-round pick on a defensive lineman, especially considering having done so the past two years, general manager John Lynch and Co. would still be wise adding at least another promising pass-rusher via this upcoming draft.
And these five prospects would be worth watching.
SF 49ers EDGE Target No. 5: Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina
The Niners have developed something of an affinity for South Carolina prospects as of late, including this year’s selection of defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and the 2019 second-round grabbing of wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
One player potentially in line to be a San Francisco target is Kinlaw’s former defensive linemate, Kingsley Enagbare, who has rocketed up big boards from a late-round pick all the way to potential day-two consideration.
A primary reason is the 6-foot-4, 270-pound defender’s four sacks registered over six games. That number, going along with his five tackles for a loss, are all on pace to set college-career highs for him, making Enagbare a solid pressure-maker off the edge.
Right now, it looks as if Enagbare could be a fourth-round selection, perhaps slipping into the latter portions of Round 3 where the SF 49ers don’t have a pick.
But if Round 4 comes to be a possibility, Lynch and Co. could do worse than add the high-performing Gamecock.