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PFF thinks edge defender is the 49ers biggest remaining need

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Arik Armstead is getting some LEO work, Aaron Lynch is likely the front-runner, and the team added some options in the draft.

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The San Francisco 49ers did a lot of work to address team needs, but in most rebuilding processes, it is going to take more than one offseason to get things turned around. For example, the 49ers have addressed their short term need at quarterback, with Brian Hoyer all but certain to start this season. They also made a move towards considering the future with their selection of C.J. Beathard. Neither move precludes making additional moves next year.

Following an incredibly busy offseason, what remains the biggest need? A long-term option at quarterback remains a question mark, but the 49ers have at least some idea where they stand for the time being. Pro Football Focus took a look at the biggest remaining need for each team, and for the 49ers, they listed edge defender. They had this to say in their discussion of the need:

Despite drafting Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick, edge rusher remains a major need for the 49ers. A roster with several holes, having a pass-rushing specialist will help ease a lot of poor play elsewhere. Thomas is more of a “tweener,” as he’ll play base DE and kick inside on sub-packages. Ahmad Brooks has played poorly the last three seasons and Aaron Lynch reportedly showed up to OTAs 20 pounds overweight. If Lynch can get back to his 2015 form, the position is less of an issue but his struggles in 2016 and reporting to camp overweight are not good signs. The 49ers are in a long-term rebuilding mode and filling all their holes will take time.

For the time being, I think the “Lynch is 20 pounds overweight” story is a little overblown. He is expected to play bigger at defensive end, and he has always been a bigger guy. He has been overweight at times, so it is certainly something to have on our radar, but I’d prefer waiting to see what training camp brings before losing my mind about this issue.

Along with Solomon Thomas, the 49ers drafted Pita Taumoepenu out of Utah. He is viewed as more of a speed option, and if he does earn any kind of role this year or next year, it would be as a rotational guy in nickel and/or dime.

Prior to the draft, Aaron Lynch and Arik Armstead got work at LEO in minicamp. The 49ers will rotate other guys in there through training camp, but Armstead is the most interesting of the bunch. He is much bigger (6’7, 292 lbs) than you usually see in your typical LEO. He is more athletic than your normal big man, so it could be something the 49ers can balance. I like the idea of having a lot of versatile options the team can move around the line, but Armstead’s LEO work will be a particularly fascinating part of training camp.