The San Francisco 49ers plans for the LEO role remain a work in progress, but one potential option is off the market. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Jacquies Smith was a restricted free agent this offseason, and back in March he met with the 49ers. Nothing ever came of it, and on Wednesday, Bucs beat writer Greg Auman reported that Smith has signed his RFA tender.
Smith tore his ACL last year in the Bucs season opener, after getting 13.5 sacks combined over the 2014 and 2015 seasons. There is no word on the status of his knee, but Auman reported that Smith is expected to be ready by the start of the season. The 49ers brought him in for a visit, but never made an offer.
The 49ers LEO role remains a question mark. Aaron Lynch and Arik Armstead have been the two most notable names mentioned in connection with the pass rush role. Eli Harold, Tank Carradine, Ahmad Brooks, and others could very well get some opportunities there as well.
Lynch and Armstead are both incredibly talented, but both have their issues when it comes to potentially playing the LEO role. Armstead is bigger than the traditional LEO, and has had great success as an interior lineman through his first two seasons. Lynch is better suited for the role, but weight fluctuation and injuries keeps us from getting too excited about his potential.
This is one area where I thought we would see the 49ers get a little more active in either free agency or the draft. The 49ers selected Pita Taumoepanu in the sixth round, and he could very well bring some speed off the edge. Other than that, they are letting it ride with the talent currently on board.