The San Francisco 49ers pass rush has been incredibly poor this season, but there have been few adjustments to the roster. Aaron Lynch was supposed to be a starter this season, and potentially the team’s best pass rusher, but he missed four games due to suspension and five more due to injury. Eli Harold has started in his place, and Tank Carradine has served as the primary backup.
One player who has not gotten a chance is Marcus Rush. During the preseason, Rush struggled against the run, but was dominant in the pass rush. He led the NFL with six sacks, and also had two pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and an interception. It came against later parts of opposing depth charts for the most part, but was impressive either way.
Head coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil have both gotten questions about Rush, and whether or not he will get a chance. On Thursday, Kelly said there had been no discussions about promoting Rush. He said they promoted Marcus Ball when Shayne Skov went down because of the need for more special teams help.
Kelly’s comments made it sound like, if Lynch had been finished for the year, the team might have concerned OLB options. But since he is not on IR, they are holding off.
O’Neil was asked about Rush and if he talks to Trent Baalke to say, “Hey, can we give this guy a chance?” Rush said, “No. I don’t get involved in those conversations. If my opinion’s asked, I give it.” When asked his opinion on how Rush is doing, he said, “Marcus? He does a great job in practice every day. He usually mimics the team’s best defensive end or pass rusher and he gives our offensive guys a great look.”
And so, we continue to wait. The coaching staff can likely provide plenty of input about players, but I would imagine the final call on promoting a player from the practice squad to the 53-man roster would fall on Trent Baalke. Given the lack of performance from the pass rush, I am left to guess the coaching staff is not sufficiently impressed with Rush to offer a promotion. O’Neil talked about the work he does mimicking an opposing pass rusher, but maybe the staff doesn’t see that as enough reason to give him a shot in the pass rusher. Who knows if we’ll ever find out.