Getting Comfortable with the Idea of a Pass Rusher at #30

Since the season ended, I was never happy when I saw a mock draft with the 49ers taking a DE/OLB pass-rusher at #30. 'Why would they do this?' I'd say to myself -- with Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, and Cory Lemonier all on the roster.

But I've been mulling it over, and I now feel like its a *great* idea and fits with what the 49ers emphasize on defense. Here is my rationale:

1. Pass rusher is the most important defensive position - the biggest factor impacting scoring in the NFL is QB performance, and the biggest factor inhibiting QB performance is pass protection and time to throw; with today's complicated routes, even elite defensive backs cannot shut down a receiver forever -- they WILL get open. there are also a lot of exotic subpackages these days, and with more pass rushers, we have more options.

2. Pass rushers are expensive - the most important position on defense is expensive. the top 3 3-4 OLB contracts average over $11m per season, top 5 average over $10m per season. Shoot, Ahmad Brooks will make $8.5m/season in 2015 and 2016 -- are we going to continue paying that? What about Aldon's next contract? 4-3 DEs make about 15% to 20% more. A team simply cannot afford to keep elite pass rushers around forever on their team (see Mario, Peppers, etc.). You need to replenish and replace.

3. Pass rushers get tired - among all positions, the edge rusher probably gives out more on a single play than any other; its 3-5 seconds of "all-out"...and they get tired. We've seen it in games - long passing drives result in a tired Aldon and a tired Ahmad, they've got nothing left in the tank. With more depth, you can keep all your pass-rushers fresh: ahmad, aldon, Lemonier, and a rookie, all rotating in and out. they'll never be tired. pass rushers don't play every down because of this.

4. pass rushers get injured - Being the most important position on defense, any injury to a top pass rusher can result in a significantly degraded defense. However, added depth and field experience can mitigate this risk. In addition, the impact of your best player getting injured in a 'platoon' setup is mitigated as well -- you just slice the pie a little bit differently.

For all these reasons, I have no issue with us taking a pass rusher at #30, trading up a little bit, or trading back a little bit. In that range, the following players will be available. note: anthony barr is highly unlikely to fall into the 20s, but I've seen some mocks where it is never know. Of these, I really like Dee Ford as a pure pass rusher at #30. Kony Ealy looks very similar to Aldon Smith, and Marcus Smith holds a lot of potential as well. If Shazier fell to #30, I wouldn't think twice about drafting him.

* Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA, 6-5, 255
* Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State, 6-1, 237
* Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn, 6-2, 252
* Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State, 6-3, 251
* Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri, 6-4, 273
* Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville, 6-3, 251


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.

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