49ers 53-man roster: Power ranking each unit entering 2021

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) with defensive end Dee Ford (55) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

1st: 49ers Defensive Line

Starters: DE Nick Bosa, DT Javon Kinlaw, NT D.J. Jones, DE Arik Armstead

Turbo Unit (Pass Rushing): DE Nick Bosa, DT Javon Kinlaw, DT Arik Armstead, DE Samson Ebukam/ DE Dee Ford

Backups: DT Kevin Givens, DT D.J. Jones, DT Zach Kerr, DE Arden Key, DT Kentavius Street

On Suspended List: DE Jordan Willis

On IR (Not-Season Ending): DT Maurice Hurst

The 49ers have the deepest defensive line in the NFL.

There is a fair case that they have the best defensive line as well, especially if Nick Bosa and Dee Ford can come back fully healthy, but as it stands, they most definitely have the deepest defensive line in the NFL.

It starts with the big names. Arik Armstead had a solid 2020, but the lack of noticeable splash plays and counting stats has left some questioning his true ability. While it may be true that Armstead will not be the player that drives a defensive line, his versatility to play edge on rushing downs and slide inside (the “Big” end in the Seattle 4-3 front lexicon) at above-average rates gives San Francisco a lot of flexibility.

From there, there are the edge rushers in Dee Ford and Nick Bosa. Last they were both healthy, the 49ers defensive line flat out destroyed the opposition. While any production from Ford will be a bonus, if he is in fact truly healthy, it provides the Niners with an explosive edge.

Bosa is Bosa. As a rookie, he was one of the best defenders in all of football, and he’s reportedly only got better. Then there is second-year defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, a mountain and physical specimen of a football player whose continued refinement of his athletic abilities to explosive pass rush continues.

After these names comes the enviable depth. D.J. Jones continues his claim as most underrated nose tackle in all of football. His explosion off the line has fueled big plays for the defense. Samson Ebukam, the 49ers’ offseason free-agent signing, offers speed and power off the edge in theory, and given his performance as only a part-time rusher, it seems likely he will be able to showcase that ability.

On the other end as a backup is former Las Vegas Raider Arden Key who could never seem to finish the job in sacks but was a constant bringer of pressure. In the middle, the 49ers have Zach Kerr, who might be the best 11th defensive lineman in the NFL, along with Kevin Givens, a player DeMeco Ryans has been excited for constantly.

Kentavius Street was a fourth-round pick in 2018 who spent his first few seasons healing from a torn ACL in pre-draft workouts, but his play and versatility has given him a real spot on the roster.

And beyond those players, the Niners have Jordan Willis destined to come off the suspended list in the middle of the season and provide an edge boost and Maurice Hurst to come off IR and showcase his solid ability in the interior. This is a defensive line room that runs 11 deep, and the 49ers went so far to deny trade requests for their depth.

Next. 49ers 53-man roster predictions ahead of final wave of 2021 cuts. dark

The main takeaway from this exercise is just how talented the roster is. Every roster has its weaknesses here and there, but for the Niners, they have covered most of their bases and then some, gearing up for what should be a fun 2021 regular season.