The San Francisco 49ers face a big decision at outside linebacker. Marcus Rush put together a ridiculous preseason, leading the league with six sacks, and adding a sack and two forced fumbles. Based on that alone, it is easy to make the case he belongs on the roster.
Of course, there is always more to the puzzle. He deserves a roster spot, but there are other considerations. Specifically, what kind of role would he carve out for himself. Pro Football Focus 49ers analyst Jeff Deeney offered up an interesting comparison.
Marcus Rush preseason grades among edge defenders:— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) September 2, 2016
vs. Run: 143rd out of 152
Pass Rush: 1st out of 152#49ers
Ahmad Brooks and Eli Harold sat out the 49ers preseason finale, while Rush, Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier all got snaps. That would seem to indicate Brooks and Harold will be the base defense OLBs. Aaron Lynch will sit the first four games while suspended, meaning four games of figuring out who will rotate where when the team moves into nickel and dime packages. We will likely see a lot of Tank Carradine off the edge. But in light of these numbers from Jeff, do we see Rush on the other end once in a while?
He still needs to beat out Corey Lemonier for a roster spot. The team could elect to keep both, but I doubt that happens. It likely comes down to who the 49ers think is a better option on special teams.