No. 3: Defensive Line
This ranking, of course, assumes that DE Nick Bosa will be with the team. Although currently holding out, there is no reason to believe he will not be a 49er, and as such, he factors heavily into this ranking. That said, the Niners emerged as playoff contenders because of their defensive line, and for it to not be the top position group is a little telling about the team now.
It all starts with Bosa, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year who singularly changes the 49ers' pass rush. Ever since his rookie year, one thing has been true. When Bosa plays, the Niners win. His last year was a tidy 18.5 sacks, and the hope is that number may even increase this year, should he play all 17 games.
Bosa's sack total could increase because of the addition of Javon Hargrave from the Eagles, whose large contract is indicative of his talent level. Hargrave is the interior rush presence the 49ers have desperately sought to add after trading away DeForest Buckner, and with him in tow, the entire defensive line will benefit. Alongside him is Arik Armstead, whose injuries and lack of an interior partner left him sackless in the regular season. Armstead though has shown himself to be an upper echelon interior presence.
After these three, the 49ers defensive line loses a little bit of its edge, but there is still talent available.
Drake Jackson ran out of steam his rookie year, but the second-year player has reshaped his body to take on the rigors of a full NFL season, and his prodigious bend and burst should hopefully pay off next to such great players. After him, the 49ers' backup D-line, which plays more than most defensive backups do, is a hodge-podge of rather capable players at depth. At defensive tackle, Kevin Givens has always popped in limited appearances, and Javon Kinlaw, finally healthy and no longer tasked with the burden of replacing Buckner, should be able to excel in less stressful moments.
The 49ers added Clelin Ferrell at defensive end, hoping that the Kris Korucek rehabilitation tour will take the former fourth-overall pick and develop him. The 49ers re-signed both Austin Bryant and Kerry Hyder Jr. as tweeners who can play both tackle or end as solid depth pieces, and finally, as the developmental prospects, Kalia Davis, who was a converted linebacker to defensive tackle, and Robert Beal Jr., with a quick burst off the edge, will develop behind the scenes.