Nearly a year ago today, I wrote my first article about the San Francisco 49ers’ promising defensive end and outside linebacker, Marcus Rush. He was coming fresh off a dominant performance in the preseason, one where he looked far and above the best player on the field for the portion of the time he was actually on it.
I was hopeful in that article, and I suggested that Rush should be on your radar. The post still lives here, and you can see the gifs I made of his performance. He was fast, aggressive and looked like he wanted that roster spot.
But that’s the last we heard of Rush. Until Saturday.
Rush once again shined in preseason play, and this time around he was in the game early enough to be playing meaningful snaps. He wasn’t consistently playing against starters by any stretch, but Rush was facing some real talent and he more than held his own. He stood out.
Rush had three sacks, a tackle on top of that and a neutral zone infraction penalty. We’re going to ignore the tackle and the penalty and focus on the three sacks, which I have compiled below. Let’s just dive right in, shall we?
7:33 in 2nd Quarter: 3rd and 11 at SF 20, Mark Sanchez sacked for -2 yards
Rush doesn’t get the initial move on the offensive tackle that he wants, but Sanchez does feel him coming off to his right and he steps up. Sanchez steps up right into two more rushers, and Rush at that point is able to shake his guy and get the sack. He looks a lot like Aaron Lynch in the gif above — a motor that won’t quit. He always has his eye on Sanchez and he makes the play.
0:22 in 2nd Quarter: 3rd and 10 at SF 15, Mark Sanchez sacked for -6 yards
The play above was actually one of many fumbles in the game, but we’re only going to focus on the sack part. Rush is, again, going up against the right tackle and he beats his man right off the snap. The tackle falters for just a split second and that’s enough for Rush to take one more extra step outside and have his man beat. It was a good rush, and the quarterback had little he could do about it. Sanchez probably should have stepped up, but he was about to make a throw when Rush drags him down, which is why it ended up being a fumble.
7:47 in 3rd Quarter: 3rd and 13 at DEN 21, Paxton Lynch sacked for -1 yard
Alright, that’s enough Mark Sanchez. Let’s see Rush take down some fresh meat, like Paxton Lynch. Once again, Rush doesn’t get the initial pressure, but he does hold on long enough to take down Lynch as he begins to abandon the pocket. I’m noticing a high motor more than anything else with Rush, and I value that above most things, mostly because the memory of Justin Smith is still fresh in my mind.
I don’t know if all of this indicates that Rush is going to come on strong, make the 53-man roster and even earn some playing time this year. I can only hope he can be as good as I feel like he can. And I can only say the same thing I said a year ago — he should be on your radar, at the absolute least.
He’s on mine.