The San Francisco 49ers are through their first week of training camp, and we have seen some shuffling in the depth chart. After spending OTAs and minicamp working primarily with the third string defense, DeForest Buckner has made his way to the top of the depth chart. The 49ers have frequently played a starting line of Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Quinton Dial. Mike Purcell has also gotten work at nose tackle, but we are hearing more and more about Dial at nose tackle.
Dial has previously played nose tackle, but primarily has been a 3-4 defensive end. Moving him inside and starting Armstead and Buckner on the outside creates a defensive line that stands an average of 6’6 and 1/2. Armstead and Buckner are listed at 6’7, while Dial is listed at 6’5.
Ian Williams and Glenn Dorsey both measure in at 6’1, so Dial is going to be a sizable amount taller. Mike Purcell measures in at 6’3, so even if he got the job, that would still be two inches taller in the middle. Whichever of the two wins the job (or Garrison Smith or Darren Lake), it will be interesting to see how they handle leverage and getting under offensive linemen. Of course, the team will use a significant amount of sub packages on defense, so we’ll likely see more of the nickel and dime than the base defense.
The 49ers open their preseason a week from today, facing the Houston Texans. The starting defense likely won’t play a ton of snaps, but whomever gets the start at nose tackle will tell us a little something. I’ve included a poll below, focused on Week 1 of the regular season. Who will be starting at nose tackle when the 49ers face the Rams on Monday Night Football?