49ers roster: These 3 rookies could start right away in 2022

Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Linebacker Drake Jackson #99 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Drake Jackson, USC Trojans
Southern California Trojans linebacker Drake Jackson (99) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers rookie No. 1: EDGE Drake Jackson

The 49ers are phasing out oft-injured pass-rusher Dee Ford and hoping their top pick from this year’s NFL Draft, former USC EDGE Drake Jackson can be more of an impactful player.

Or, at the very least, someone who can be on the field for more than just a scant minority of defensive snaps.

Read More: Niners should expect more out of Drake Jackson than what they got from Dee Ford

Jackson, taken at No. 61 overall, didn’t have the statistical measuring points in college to suggest he’ll be an elite player, registering just 12.5 sacks over three years with the Trojans, but it’s important to acknowledge USC’s defense was an ever-changing mess for most of his tenure there.

Plus, all the physical attributes of the 6-foot-4, 250-pound EDGE are there. That’s important.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Niners deploy their top draft investment from this year, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him in an every-down role alongside fellow EDGE Nick Bosa and defensive tackles Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw, rotating in and out depending on how quickly Jackson matures and develops.

If all goes well, San Francisco should be able to capitalize on its investment sooner than later.

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