A new strength has grown on the defense of the 49ers.
Originally, their strength stemmed from the dominance of their edge rush. Now it is as clear as day that their greatest strength lies with the interior defensive line. From top-to-bottom, the depth along that interior is as sound as can be.
That is an area that general manager John Lynch is elated for by the additions of Zach Kerr and Maurice Hurst.
“I'd say that that was fortuitous for us, you know, first of all, that a guy like Kerr was out there," said Lynch. "You know, we didn't anticipate Arden Key and Hurst to become available, but the Raiders made a decision that they did and we pounced on it. We think they're good football players who can help us. And so, you know, the more quality depth we can add at that position we think it's a good thing for us. And they know they're going to come here and get coached. They know we have a philosophy that allows those guys to shine and they know they're going to be surrounded by quality players. And so I think that's a nice thing we have going, we believe in very much our actions have represented that. And you know, I think guys relish the opportunity to play, and now we've got to go make it happen out here, but we're excited about that unit.”
These two players can easily carve significant roles on obvious pass rushing downs for the 49ers. It is going to make this team such an elite pass rush, while also increasing the competition to force incumbent players such as D.J. Jones and Kevin Givens to continue to get better. Throw in the additions of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford returning, assuming health is a minor concern and they return close to form, then the interior players should FEAST.
The interior defensive line is going to be the reason why the 49ers pass rush will be a top-five unit in the league. They can be so good that it will make DeMeco Ryans think twice about being aggressive. If the defensive line is doing fine on it's own, then he will not need to increase the blitz calls. Although, that will still be effective because the offensive protection will just be overwhelmed and obliterated.
It won't be on the same level as 2019 because that year the defensive line was astonishingly special, but it is definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.