49ers roster: Drake Jackson in a perfect context his rookie year

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) /
3 of 4
Drake Jackson, Jake Wiley, USC Trojans, Colorado Buffaloes
USC Trojans linebacker Drake Jackson (99) rushes at Colorado Buffaloes offensive lineman Jake Wiley (60) Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Why Drake Jackson struggles early and often for 49ers

Even if Drake Jackson doesn’t come out of the gate hot for the 49ers his rookie year, the context for him is still beneficial as he won’t have to be “great” anytime soon.

That said, there are plenty of risks the Niners are taking with the promising but unpolished pass-rusher.

Going back to the variety of roles USC had him do during his college years, Jackson didn’t exactly have the opportunity to fine-tune his arsenal of pass-rushing moves, meaning he largely had to rely solely on speed rather than strength to get into the backfield.

On top of that, as his NFL.com draft profile pointed out, the frequent change in weight means he hasn’t quite learned to use his size and stature to his advantage just yet, and it’s not uncommon for him to get knocked off balance or out of pass-rushing lanes when they’re available.

Oh, and don’t count upon him being an every-down player anytime soon. Jackson still needs a lot of work on run defense.

We’ve seen plenty of promising EDGE prospects come and go over the years, such as Solomon Thomas and another former San Francisco player who seemingly had all the traits, Eli Harold, but never amassed to anything more than a role player after the 49ers grabbed him in Round 3 out of Virginia.

Yet the state of the Niners’ current defensive line should make life for Jackson much easier than it was for either Thomas or Jackson when they respectively broke into the league with San Francisco.

That’ll matter.