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How do you grade 49ers NFL Draft addition Solomon Thomas?

Time to grade every 49ers roster addition from the 2017 offseason. Today, we look at defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

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The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2017 season and have begun their work to prepare for 2018 free agency and the draft. We’ll be breaking down plenty of what that means, but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look back at the season that was for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo captured our imagination, but the 49ers rebuilding process was extensive last year. We are going to take a look at every notable addition and provide a forum for grading how that signing, trade, or draft pick worked out.

Solomon Thomas, defensive lineman
How acquired: Drafted in the first round (3rd overall)

The 49ers were connected to Thomas for much of the pre-draft process, but it felt like a smoke-screen. It seems like when a team is regularly connected to a player, it often ends up resulting in the team going in an entirely different direction. The 49ers had a lot of needs heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, and it was hard to gauge just what they planned on doing.

The 49ers made noise quickly by swapping picks with the Chicago Bears, moving down one spot from No. 2 to No. 3. They ended up landing John Lynch’s one-time Stanford classmate, marking the third straight season they had selected a defensive lineman with a first round pick.

Thomas was unable to join the 49ers right out of the gate because of Stanford’s academic calendar. The quarter system meant he was unable to take part in OTAs or minicamp. He took part in rookie minicamp, and was able to get access to the playbook and practice film, but he was a step behind.

Thomas suffered an MCL sprain that cost him two games, but otherwise he stayed healthy and plenty active each week. His best work came against the run, showing tremendous speed in cutting across the backfield to take down ball carriers. He struggled in the pass rush, never able to find any consistency in getting to the quarterback.

The Athletic’s David Lombardi put together a great article looking at a variety of stats related to Thomas’s performance. It’s behind a pay wall, but I’ll mention a few of the interesting ones. Thomas had more tackles and tackles for loss than any other rookie defensive lineman, in spite of his MCL injury.

Lombardi broke down how it took more time for Thomas to come around as a pass rusher than run stuffer in his time at Stanford. He has shown development at each level prior. The NFL is a whole different beast, but the past does provide some reason for optimism.

Where it will get interesting is the position(s) he plays this fall. He played mostly outside, getting 71 percent of his work outside the tackles, 23 percent aligned directly opposite the tackles, and six percent aligned inside (per Lombardi/PFF). Robert Saleh has talked about getting Thomas inside more as his development progresses.

Year two is going to be a big one for his development. The 49ers are likely to add edge rush help, but with Arik Armstead entering the fourth year of his contract, the team has a decision to make. They will likely pick up the option while it remains only guaranteed for injury. Solomon Thomas’ production could end up influencing who is around on the defensive line next to him and DeForest Buckner in 2019.

In terms of grading the addition, I’d say focus on the player they got. The trade to move down netted the 49ers a third and fourth last year, and a third this year. It’s hard to really fully analyze every aspect of the trade since they still are reaping the rewards of the trade.

If you can’t see the poll, click here.

Poll

How do you grade 49ers NFL Draft addition Solomon Thomas?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (242 votes)
  • 51%
    B
    (1214 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (767 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (120 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (24 votes)
2367 votes total Vote Now