49ers Defensive Line (11)
EDGE Nick Bosa
EDGE Drake Jackson
DE/DT Arik Armstead
DT Javon Kinlaw
DT Maurice Hurst
EDGE Samson Ebukam
DT Kevin Givens
DE Kerry Hyder, Jr
EDGE Kemoko Turay
EDGE Charles Omenihu
DE Jordan Willis
Ah, the deepest position on the 49ers roster yet again is the defensive line, making it among the hardest to figure out what the Niners brass will do in terms of keeping players.
Chances are, the number will be high, although 11 players might end up being a lot, but they’ll not go lower than nine in the D-line room.
There are plenty of locks, including EDGE Nick Bosa, moveable piece Arik Armstead, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, and a second-round draft pick, EDGE Drake Jackson out of the University of Southern California.
Beyond that, while there are quite a few slots to fill, there are also plenty of guys who’ll be fighting for those spots. The 49ers have 14 players on the 90-man roster listed as a defensive lineman, they drafted Jackson, and even brought in Fresno State defensive tackle Kevin Atkins as a UDFA, bringing the total to 16 for no more than the eleven spots here.
For the time being, lets feel pretty good about Maurice Hurst, who didn’t feature much in 2021 due to injury, EDGE Sam Ebukam, who came on late last year, Kevin Givens, who the team may see as a D.J. Jones replacement at nose tackle, and defensive end Kerry Hyder, who returns after a year with the Seattle Seahawks and could prove more versatile than he was during his breakout season in San Francisco in 2020.
Once you get to that number, though, then it gets interesting. I’ve gone with mostly edge rushers, although Jordan Willis is big enough to rush from the inside in a NASCAR package, with both free-agent signing Kemoko Turay and Charles Omenihu showing good skills as depth guys in limited roles in 2021, Turay in Indianapolis with the Colts and Omenihu as a 49er.
But don’t count out Hassan Ridgeway to push Givens and Hurst or Alex Barrett, who has looked solid in limited action in past years, to make some noise in the competition as well.
The good news: This is a good problem to have and hopefully the competition brings out the best in whoever ends up cracking the 53-man roster in September.