Of all the needs the 49ers had this last offseason, the one they didn’t particularly address very much is pass rusher. They have a bunch of middling guys who have shown a bit here and there, Arik Armstead, Eli Harold, Elvis Dumervil, Brock Coyle, Malcolm Smith, a late sign (and late bloomer), Cassius Marsh, and ex-Charger Jeremiah Attaochu.
Armstead, a solid run defender, has not panned out as the pass rusher he was supposed to be. Then again, he has been forced to change his position to make room for Salomon Thomas, from DE to OLB, and lose a bunch of weight to do that. He has always been raw, and with untimely injuries to boot, he hasn’t reached his potential. He has freakish size and speed, but as of now he’s a man without a position. He seemed to be a much better player as a bigger DE rather than a lighter OLB, but we’ll see. We have a lot of guys at DE but at least Carradine is gone. So what the future holds for AA is a mystery, but he’s still in their plans because they picked up his fifth year option. Maybe they try Salomon Thomas as an OLB on pass rushing downs? Shit, I don’t know. All I know is we need more pressure, and none of these guys have been a very big presence (and you can throw in DFB in the mix here) as the dominant edge rushing force.
Eli Harold, we all know about. He’s been underwhelming, yet he sticks around. Dumervil is gone, and Brock Coyle is a decent LB who sucks in coverage. M Smith has yet to play a down for us, and that leads to Cassius Marsh.
Marsh had a couple sacks for us late last year after being pretty much a big fail in New England. The Pats gave Seattle a 5th and 7th round pick for him, nothing too costly, but he lasted all of 9 games before being dumped by the Pats in late November. We signed him the next day. For whatever reason, he seemed to fit here much better, and he’s played well enough to garner a 2 year deal from the Niners as he’s provided some pass rush, and is a solid special teamer.
Which leads to Jeremiah Attaochu. He’s another guy with freakish athleticism who has had some injury issues. Beyond that, he was behind Joey Bosa on the Bolts’ depth chart, so he didn’t get a ton of opportunities once he got healthy,
So there you have it. We have a lot of pieces, a lot of potential, a few too many DEs, and a scheme that needs to be put together to get all these guys in place to wreak havoc. I’m completely fine with how these guys should defend the run, but pass rush has been my concern for a while now.