The San Francisco 49ers need edge rusher help in a bad way. Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine, and Ahmad Brooks all could compete for that kind of work, be it in the LEO role or in the nickel defensive end. There is talent amidst that group, but too many questions. Lynch is a talented pass rusher who has had numerous issues staying on the field. Ahmad Brooks remains solid but is in the last year of his contract. Tank has been a bust thanks in part to the team moving him all around and having him beef up and then lose a bunch of weight. And Harold does not seem to be emerging for the time being as more than a backup.
So, what will the 49ers do to address their need for a pass rusher? Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett is likely going No. 1 overall. I’ve seen the occasional mock draft suggest Tennessee’s Derek Barnett at No. 2, but most agree that would be a reach. I’ve also seen numerous mocks suggesting Missouri’s Charles Harris in the second round.
It is entirely possible Harris won’t be there when the 49ers get to No. 34. New York Giants beat writer Jordan Ranaan has heard Harris’ momentum could carry him past Barnett in the draft.
After talking to sources I've realized Charles Harris will be selected higher than most believe, possibly ahead of Derek Barnett. #NFLDraft— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) April 19, 2017
On Friday, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock discussed the numerous pass rush options available toward the end of the first round. He thinks Derek Barnett, Takk McKinley, Charles Harris, and T.J. Watt are all first round possibilities that could slip to the bottom of the round. When asked about the group, he had this to say when asked about being there for Dallas at No. 28:
Charles Harris has picked up some steam. I would expect him to be gone before that. But if he was there, I'd think he'd be a great pick for them, especially from -- in addition to talent, he's got an awful lot of talent, and he gets in that three-point stance and he goes. He's a long guy, plays hard. Got a great work ethic. He's really good off the field, high-character guy. If Charles Harris was there, I think he'd make a ton of sense.
Takk McKinley from UCLA, you can say the same things about how hard he plays, what kind of kid he is. He's coming off shoulder surgery and had a couple concussions. So there are some medical issues around him. I think once you get past that, and most teams have, if he's there at 28, he makes some sense. He doesn't bend as well as Harris. He's a little stiffer, but he's really an explosive, straight line player.
And T.J. Watt, it's interesting, because he's only a one year starter. He was a tight end. He had two knee operation surgeries in college. Didn't get on the field as a starter until last year. He shows twitch, toughness, and quickness. He's got some length. The 4-3 teams think he can play 4-3. The 3-4 teams think they can play outside linebacker. He's obviously got some bloodlines which are legit. He plays really hard. I've got him in the second round, but if you're sitting there in the first round and you've got to have that position, T.J. Watt can play.
Will the 49ers be able to land an edge rusher in the first two rounds? There’s talk of Solomon Thomas at No. 2, but it remains to be seen if he would be able to be the kind of premium option at the LEO role. I could see the 49ers going secondary in the first round and then edge rusher in the second round. A lot of that could depend on what quarterbacks are available at No. 34, but there could be some serious defensive talent available.