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DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas leading the way for 49ers in tackles for loss

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The 49ers aren’t getting the sacks they want, but they are doing work behind the line of scrimmage.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers’ greatest asset right now and going forward is their defensive line. Even with injuries to Tank Carradine and Arik Armstead, the line remains formidable. I still am a big believer in Aaron Lynch and think he’s under-utilized, but ultimately the returns from DeForest Buckner and, slowly but surely, Solomon Thomas, have been extremely encouraging.

San Francisco isn’t always producing sacks and they have had breakdowns in run defense, but by and large they are effective in the backfield. How effective? They’re the third-most productive tackling team when it comes to backfield tackles over the past four games, according to Justis Mosqueda of the Setting Edge podcast.

They go over their methodology right here, but in addition to the 49ers being third in tackle for loss, two 49ers in particular rank among the top linemen in the league in the stat: Buckner and Thomas. It’s good to see Thomas on that list in particular given his slow start to his rookie season.

That list has Buckner listed right below Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders and above Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams — the two best defensive linemen in the NFL from where I’m sitting. Thomas comes in just below Donald on the list.

They’re interesting stats, and I’m excited to see where these guys go from here. I think injuries to Carradine and Armstead have really thrown off the development of the line as a whole, but if Buckner and Thomas continue their trajectory, the 49ers will be in great shape going forward.