The San Francisco 49ers have invested significant assets in the defensive line the past two years, drafting former Oregon teammates Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in the first round of the 2015 and 2016 NFL Drafts, respectively. The team has played in a base 3-4 defense during that time, but is now set to switch to a 4-3 similar to what the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons run, which has raised questions about plans along the defensive line.
On Tuesday, new general manager John Lynch made an appearance on 95.7 The Game (audio), and he got a question about the team’s defensive changes and what it means for Armstead and Buckner. Lynch talked about the fact that the defense will spend most of the time in sub-packages, but he does think Armstead and Buckner are scheme-versatile. Specifically, he said he is excited to see them in a more aggressive role, rather than what he saw as read-and-react last year.
Here is the full transcript of his comments on the two linemen and the team’s new defense.
“I think they fit very well. And that’s one thing I think I want to make sure, and I really believe it, I think Trent Baalke did a great job of getting guys that really, yes they were picked for one system, but I think they transition very well to our system. And, one thing we’ve talked about, Kyle and I, from the start, and it’s often a buzzword, but we really mean it, we wanna play with great urgency, with great aggressiveness, and so one of the things that I’m excited to see those guys, they were very much in a read-and-react posture. I’m excited to cut ‘em loose, and when we say aggressive, that doesn’t mean we’re blitzing every play. It means we’re getting off the ball. On the snap, we’re taking the fight to them, and I think these are guys that fit what we’re gonna do very well. And we’re quite excited about it.
“They’re going to be coached hard. They’re going to be asked to sprint to the football, wherever it is. And so, that doesn’t just come natural. Those are habits that you have to pick up. I’m really excited about our defensive line coach, Jeff Zgonina. He’s a guy who played that way, he lasted a long time in this league, and I think that was an important hire for us. And I’m thrilled with what he’s going to bring, and the way that those guys are gonna play. But, I couldn’t be more excited, and as you mentioned before, people talk 3-4, 4-3; 70 to 75 percent of this game now is played in sub or nickel. And at that point that’s kinda out the door. It’s, can you stop the run, and can you go get the guy throwing the football and bring him down. And we think both those guys have great potential to do that.”