These 5 players must become 49ers' next batch of superstars

San Francisco 49ers defensive backs Deommodore Lenoir (38) and Tashaun Gipson (31)
San Francisco 49ers defensive backs Deommodore Lenoir (38) and Tashaun Gipson (31) / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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San Francisco 49ers, Drake Jackson
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Drake Jackson (95) / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

No. 1: 49ers edge Drake Jackson

Not totally unlike how the 49ers opted not to reinforce the offensive line this offseason, the Niners seem to be placing a lot of faith in second-year edge rusher Drake Jackson despite losing veteran defensive ends Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu to free agency.

For what it's worth, San Francisco has far more invested in Jackson than in the two free-agent pickups, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant. It'd be far more beneficial if Jackson took a next-level leap en route to becoming the 49ers' top No. 2 pass-rusher to pair with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa.

Jackson, the Niners' top pick from the 2022 draft, impressed early during his pro career and managed three sacks over the first half of the season with eight passes broken up. However, a lack of physical conditioning resulted in him being a healthy scratch for almost all of the final stretch of San Francisco's regular-season games and even into the playoffs.

A reinvigorated Jackson could ultimately buck that trend, especially if he winds up being the beneficiary of opponents focusing their attention on Bosa instead of him.

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