SF 49ers: 3 silver linings from playoff-eliminating loss to Cowboys
By Peter Panacy
No. 3: SF 49ers defensive line should be elite again next year
Few units have experienced more injury attrition this season more than the SF 49ers defensive line, which was the team’s No. 1 strength in 2019.
Week 15 provided a case study in two less-heralded members of the D-line still making key plays: defensive lineman Arik Armstead and the rookie, Javon Kinlaw. Both were beasts against Dallas’ run game, which is fine. Those players have typically done well here in this department over the course of the year.
But what was lacking was the playmaking from both players simultaneously.
That changed versus the Cowboys, as Kinlaw registered one tackle for a loss and also should have been credited with a fumble strip against Dallas’ quarterback, Andy Dalton, only to have the officials incorrectly rule it a non-fumble. Kinlaw is beginning to take on two blockers every snap, which certainly helped open things up for Armstead.
Armstead, who entered the season with just 1.5 sacks and was receiving criticism for not getting that total anywhere close to the 10 he picked up last year, added two during the game. It’s good to see his pass-rushing ways coming back to the fray.
Now, when the Niners get a fully healthy EDGE, Nick Bosa, back from his season-ending ACL tear, one can accurately predict the D-line will be infinitely better than it was in 2020.
And it hasn’t been bad at all this year whatsoever despite being shorthanded.