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49ers opponents: Lane Johnson suspended 4 games

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In Week 4, the San Francisco 49ers will face a Philadelphia Eagles squad that is a man short. Right tackle Lane Johnson has been suspended 4 games, and it will provide an opportunity for the 49ers pass rush on the right side of the Eagles line.

Thearon W. Henderson

A month ago, word leaked out that Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson would be suspended four games for a failed PED test. It took four weeks, but the Eagles finally confirmed the report earlier this week. Johnson will sit out the first four games of the season, which includes the Week 4 contest against the San Francisco 49ers. It sounds like Allen Barbre will be Johnson's likely replacement at right tackle, while Jason Peters remains at left tackle.

When the 49ers host the Eagles in Week 4, Ahmad Brooks is likely to be the linebacker opposite Barbre (or whomever ends up starting at right tackle). If Aldon Smith receives a suspension of 4+ games, Corey Lemonier and/or Dan Skuta would likely be starting his place. It would not surprise me if Skuta was starting in the base 3-4, and Lemonier was in for the extensive nickel use the 49ers employ.

Where this gets interesting though is if Aldon Smith gets a suspension of 3 or fewer games. If that ends up being the situation, he is likely starting, or at least getting a lot of the snaps in his normal OLB spot. The question then is what kind of rotation do we see with Ahmad Brooks. While Brooks remains an under-the-radar contributor on defense, it would not surprise me to see the team slowly work in a rotation for him, similar to what we saw last season with Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs behind Justin Smith and Ray McDonald.

At some point the 49ers will move on from Ahmad Brooks. He remains a strong part of this defense, so it's not something that has to be rushed. But the 49ers are in a position where they can slowly make that transition and see just what Corey Lemonier in particular can bring to the table. We saw him flash serious talent this past season, and to date it would seem like he has rightfully earned a greater role in 2014.