Time for Niners defensive line to grow up

D-line needs to make its mark against patchwork Cardinals

Bonta Hill
October 01, 2017 - 9:06 am

The San Francisco 49ers have made a concerted effort to beef up their defensive line as they've spent three of their last five first-round draft picks on that position group.

DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas are expecting to be a wrecking crew for years to come, providing interior pressure and being stout against the run.

Well, if the Niners are going to go into Arizona and shock the world, that trio is going to have to take advantage of the Cardinals patchwork offensive line. A couple of former 49ers — Mike Iupati and Alex Boone — will not be in the lineup to protect Carson Palmer.

So just like in Seattle, the 49ers have no excuse but to dominate the line of scrimmage.

Buckner is doing his part to help the 49ers win in his second season. You don’t need stats to notice how well he’s playing even though Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus has provided plenty of evidence:

He’s Pro Football Focus’ third-highest graded interior lineman, ranking only behind J.J. Watt and Ndamukong Suh.

But what about Armstead and Thomas?

Armstead has been inconsistent so far in his short career, and with his size and strength, there’s no excuse for that. He’s playing the 49ers LEO position, making outside containment and pressure off the edge essential.

We’ve seen glimpses from Armstead, but he’s hardly having the impact the 49ers are expecting from the former 2015 first-round pick.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan mentioned earlier this week that he’s not worried about Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The young man out of Stanford has gotten off to a slow start, registering only one quarterback pressure so far this season.

With Tank Carradine on IR, Thomas is going to need to grow up fast as he’ll get a lot more snaps.

The 49ers as a whole have only registered three sacks on the season, but against a depleted Cardinals’ offensive line, that number should double.

There’s no excuses this week for the defensive line. If they don’t produce, Palmer will shred the 49ers average secondary. It’s up to the defensive line to prevent the Niners from remaining winless.

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