49ers defensive line predictions: The starters
Defensive ends: Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam
Defensive tackles: Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw
There’s effectively only one major question mark to answer when it comes to predicting San Francisco’s starting defensive line.
It’s important to note this is for base-downs only, even though the biggest number of snaps now feature sub packages where 1-technique nose tackles frequently come off the field in favor of better pass-rushers. But that’s not where the question here resides.
Nick Bosa is an every-down player, having proven his ability to not just rush the passer his rookie year but also to defend well against the run. No questions there. Instead, the bigger question will be wondering if Drake Jackson winds up being an every-down player at some point in his career, too, potentially being more than just the pure situational pass-rushing threat Dee Ford was during his 49ers tenure.
If so, Jackson could easily wind up securing a starting bid right away.
In the meantime, the Niners likely hand the job off to sixth-year veteran EDGE Samson Ebukam, who is more of a speed rusher but nevertheless held his own against the run last year, missing only one tackle over the course of the regular season.
As for the interior? Well, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans pointed out just how much the D-line improved last season once Arik Armstead moved inside from defensive end after Week 5. Armstead will stay there unless injuries start to pile up.