49ers roster 2024: Robert Beal a pass-rushing X-factor

After missing most of his rookie campaign in 2023, Robert Beal Jr. should have plenty of chances to make an impact for the Niners this season.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Robert Beal Jr.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Robert Beal Jr. / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers will look to get more out of Robert Beal Jr. in 2024, and the second-year pro should have plenty of chances to seize the moment.

When one thinks of the San Francisco 49ers' crop of pass-rushers, the go-to names include defensive ends like Leonard Floyd, Yetur Gross-Matos, a still-developing Drake Jackson and an All-Pro, Nick Bosa.

Frequently left out of the discussion is defensive end Robert Beal Jr.

Beal, whom the Niners selected in Round 5 of the 2023 NFL Draft out of Georgia, was seen as a raw-but-promising prospect who'd need a lot of coaching and technique work at the pro level after a five-year collegiate tenure that saw him notch 10.5 sacks.

Unfortunately for Beal, he was shelved on injured reserve for much of his rookie season after suffering a hamstring injury not long after being drafted.

That ultimately hindered his first-year campaign, although he did flash some promise by registering a sack and five tackles over four regular-season games in a rotational role late in the season.

Should San Francisco expect more out of Beal in 2024?

Why Robert Beal Jr. improves for 49ers in 2024

Beal, 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, was hindered by that aforementioned injury that followed him for much of the ramp-up period leading to 2023.

That meant Beal didn't get to work much with the 49ers' defensive line guru, coach Kris Kocurek, who has a knack for getting the most out of mid- and even lower-level pass-rushers. Assuming Beal is back at 100 percent, Beal will now receive that top-end coaching in order to hone his craft and talents.

Plus, learning from other established pass-rushers like Floyd and Bosa should only help, too.

What will Robert Beal Jr.'s role with 49ers be?

Bosa, Floyd and Gross-Matos are easily ahead of Beal on the depth chart, meaning the latter will compete with others like Jackson for rotational roles once training camp rolls around this summer.

There's room for both Beal and Jackson on the 53-man roster, provided both end up outperforming other edge rushers currently on the team's 90-man offseason roster who aren't likely to survive post-preseason cuts.

But, who winds up being the No. 4 option behind Bosa, Floyd and Gross-Matos remains up in the air.

After two disappointing seasons, Jackson is on a bit of a hot seat entering 2024, meaning Beal could receive some preferential treatment and additional chances, which would be a bonus for him.

At his ceiling, Beal might be one of those situational rushers who might see up to 10 defensive snaps per game.

That's what the Niners would hope for in 2024.

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