Ronald Blair's Legacy on the 49ers

Don't forget Ronald Blair.
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Don't forget Ronald Blair.

The 49ers cut him this week, and his career might be over. He missed the past season and a half with a torn ACL. He's a 28-year-old backup defensive end who has started only two games in his career.

But he's one of the most underrated 49ers of the past five years, and he deserves recognition.

Blair was Trent Baalke's last good draft pick. Baalke took him in the fifth round of 2016. Not many people had heard of Blair -- he went to Appalachian State, a small school. And he didn't start any games as a rookie, but he still recorded 3.5 sacks.

Then the 49ers fired Baalke and hired Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. And they gutted the roster and rebuilt it, but kept Blair. He was one of just a few Baalke players who made it through four years with Lynch and Shanahan.

But they didn't know what they had in Blair when they took over in 2017. They also didn't know what they had in Arik Armstead. So they drafted Solomon Thomas, who took most of Blair's playing time in 2017. Plus Blair missed 10 games with a thumb injury.

But Blair always was better than Thomas, and never should have been his backup. And in 2018, Blair proved it. He recorded 5.5 sacks -- second most on the team -- even though he started zero games. He had more sacks than Thomas and Armstead combined.

And in 2019, Blair was on pace for an even better season. He had 3 sacks through 9 games. But then he tore his ACL, and he hasn't played since.

Blair should have been a starter in 2017 and 2018. He could have been an impact player. His career should have been better than it was.

Don't forget him.