Over the last three months, we have spent countless hours debating what the 49ers positions of need were heading into free agency and the 2012 NFL Draft. After the team locked up their starting defense for 2012, the team decided to look on the offensive side of the ball early in the draft. They added a WR, RB and two offensive linemen over the course of the three days. In addition, they picked up a free safety and two outside linebackers.
While the moves tell us a lot about the team's thought process, the lack of certain other moves potentially tells us just as much about the 49ers beliefs regarding their roster. I thought I'd take a look at some of these non-moves, starting along the defensive line.
One of the bigger rallying cries heading into last weekend's draft was the belief that the 49ers were going to add a defensive end as they look to groom Justin Smith's eventual successor. It turns out, maybe the team is satisfied with the defensive line currently at their disposal.
The current defensive line depth chart, looks something like this:
DE: Justin Smith, Demarcus Dobbs
NT: Isaac Sopoaga, Ricky Jean-Francois, Ian Williams
DE: Ray McDonald, Will Tukuafu
RJF operates as the primary backup across the entire line, as he has filled in for all three players at different times. Dobbs, Williams and Tukuafu will enter training camp in a dogfight, potentially for only two roster spots. The 49ers retained all three last year, but one has to wonder if they are willing to do that again, particularly as they boost roster positions elsewhere.
The team has plenty of opportunities to make changes down the road, but for now it would appear that they are content with their current roster of defensive linemen. They would appear to also see a possible successor to Justin Smith in in their defensive line rotation. That thought might change this coming season, but I can't see any reason that is not their thought process at the moment.