Following the massive deal the 49ers gave to defensive tackle Arik Armstead, it was all but assured that they were not going to be able to give DeForest Buckner the deal he deserved and wanted. That led to them trading the massive defender to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th-overall pick in the 2020 draft.
As Chris Biderman highlighted on Sunday in the Sacramento Bee, the Niners will have to move on without one of their biggest pieces – literally – along the defensive line that helped build the winning culture, which led this team to the Super Bowl. San Francisco has the unenviable task of trying to maintain their pass-rush success after going from five former first-round picks along the line to…..only four. What a great problem to have.
The first guy set to replace Buckner, who is already on the roster potentially, would be Soloman Thomas. While drafted as a defensive end, his speed could be effective from the inside as he is sort’ve a “tweener” in the NFL. Thomas played in all 16 games last year but started a career-low three games and played just 41% of the snaps on defense. He finished with 21 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, and a pair of sacks.
Fellow defensive tackle D.J. Jones played only 31% percent of the defensive snaps but was credited with 11 starts on the year. His 2019 stats included 23 tackles, four tackles-for-loss, and two sacks. On a per-snap basis, Jones looks to be the more productive player, but there’s a good chance the Niners use a committee approach in the short-term.
If the team believes neither is a long-term option, then maybe they take a hard look at South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw. He’s far-and-away the most explosive and athletic defensive tackle in the entire draft and should be the second tackle off the board behind Auburn’s Derrick Brown. Kinlaw will likely go between picks 10 and 15, meaning he could land squarely in the 49ers’ lap. They are still in dire need of cornerback help, but there will be plenty of solid options at the end of the first. If they want to continue having a destructive front four, Kinlaw might be the way to go at 13.
Onto the rest of the links.
NFL mock draft 2020: 49ers, Vikings take advantage of new picks (Sporting News)
Tom Brady Was ‘Discussed’ by SF Despite Jimmy Garoppolo on Roster (Bleacher Report)
Where King ranks 49ers among most attractive teams to watch (49ers WebZone)