The San Francisco 49ers lost a heart-breaker to the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, and while we saw improvement in some regards, we were left with numerous questions elsewhere. The weekly snap count offers plenty of detail, and we’ve posted it below. You can also view it in the gamebook PDF.
We can cut straight to the chase on this one. The big question mark for me was defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. The 49ers first round pick in 2017, Thomas has struggled to gain a significant role on a week-to-week basis. He is playing primarily on the end positions, with a handful of snaps inside at defensive tackle. In college, he had considerable success as a pass-rushing interior lineman, and yet he is getting little to no inside work this season.
In Week 6, Thomas played a total of 26 defensive snaps, with 17 at right end, 8 at left end, and one in a quasi-outside linebacker role. He played 37 percent of defensive snaps, and was last among the defensive linemen in snaps. On Friday, Robert Saleh said the plan the previous week had been to try and find more such situations.
“[W]hen it comes to pass opportunities, we had a great plan going into that Cardinals game to try to get more opportunities for them to rush inside, but it came down to third down again. So, when he does get those third down opportunities, that’s where they show up. Or two-minute where it’s an obvious passing situation where he can get inside and you’re talking about 15 to 20 reps a game if the situation presents itself. But again, it all comes back to us, too. Where can we get those guys into obvious passing situations in a normal down so it’s first-and-10 or second-and-11 after a negative play where you just feel like the offense is about to throw and you can go take as hot with smaller guys on the football field. But, all of that goes with the flow of the game and just having opportunities to do it.”
And yet, it felt like he regularly was coming off the field in situations where he could have been used inside. Instead, Sheldon Day emerged as the primary option alongside DeForest Buckner. Day finished the day with a sack and four hurries over 39 pass rush attempts (per PFF), and generally has looked like a really solid option on the interior. On the other hand, by comparison, Thomas had a hit and two hurries on 18 pass rush snaps. Not too bad given the workload. At some point, do they figure out a way to get Thomas involved more regularly?
49ers snap count, Week 6 vs. Packers