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ESPN rates pass rush as the 49ers biggest roster decision remaining

The 49ers did not make big moves to increase the pass rush. We’ll see how they hope this pans out.

The San Francisco 49ers were not aggressive this offseason in addressing their inconsistent pass rush. They signed Jeremiah Attaochu and re-signed Cassius Marsh, while declining the option on Elvis Dumervil’s contract. They welcome back Arik Armstead from injured reserve, and hope for improved play from Solomon Thomas, but seem relatively comfortable carrying over from last season.

ESPN’s Field Yates recently listed the biggest roster decision for each of the 32 NFL teams, and it is not all that surprising he listed pass rush for the 49ers. Here’s what Yates had to say about the 49ers pass rush issues.

Another team that faces less of a decision and more of a development pattern: the 49ers and their pass rush. The 49ers eschewed drafting a pass-rusher early in this year’s process, counter to what many expected the team to consider. While the 49ers have some promising young defensive linemen -- none more so than DeForest Buckner -- the team does not yet have an established, consistent pass-rushing force. The 49ers managed just 30.0 sacks as a team last year, tied for 26th in the NFL. While young players such as Solomon Thomas and Buckner will further develop, there’s an incumbent need for veterans such as Cassius Marsh and former Charger Jerry Attaochu to make an impact, as well as a fortified secondary holding up longer in coverage to give the pass rush time to reach the target.

I’d say the secondary is something that can be coupled with the pass rush in any sort of discussion about roster questions. The 49ers are starting a majority of incumbents in the secondary, with Richard Sherman tentatively the only “starter” that was not on the roster last year. But even with the incumbents returning, it is a young group. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and free safety Adrian Colbert are in their second seasons, with both taking some time last year to claim starting jobs. Jaquiski Tartt claimed a starting job last year, in his third season, but he was lost to injured reserve in November. That leaves a group with a relatively dearth of starting experience.

On the offensive side of the ball, the guard positions are the big question marks. The team signed Jonathan Cooper to compete with Joshua Garnett and Laken Tomlinson. It seems like Tomlinson has the edge at one guard position. Cooper remains sidelined rehabbing January MCL surgery, but should be good to go for training camp. Garnett and Mike Person have been splitting first team reps, but training camp will clear that competition up to a certain degree. But in the meantime, there are significant questions as to how the two guard positions will shake out.