49ers strong position No. 1: Defensive line
Key additions in 2022: Kerry Hyder, Kemoko Turay, Hassan Ridgeway, Drake Jackson*, Kalia Davis*
Yes, San Francisco lost a key part of its stout defensive line over the years, nose tackle D.J. Jones, who departed in free agency for a lucrative deal with the Denver Broncos. And it’s also looking like EDGE Dee Ford will either retire or be a post-June 1 cap casualty in light of his chronic back injury.
However, there’s little doubting the 49ers’ strongest position overall entering 2022 is this unit.
Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa will look to replicate his impressive 2021 season in which he recorded 15.5 sacks, but the Niners’ biggest immediate boost could be the healthy return of third-year pro defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who’ll play a major role in making up for Jones’ absence in the rotation.
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Adding edge rusher Kemoko Turay while reuniting with its 2020 sack leader, defensive end Kerry Hyder, only adds more depth to San Francisco’s already deep D-line, too.
Of course, a heavy amount of attention this spring and summer will be on the 49ers’ top pick from the 2022 NFL Draft, USC EDGE Drake Jackson, who might need some refinement but has all the physical tools to be a dominant force right out of the gate.
The strong get stronger, at least in terms of D-line prowess.
The Niners have kept this group a prominent strength ever since Kyle Shanahan took over in 2017, and there’s no reason to assume it’ll be anything different this season.