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49ers defensive line bubble watch remains the same six players

The San Francisco 49ers have invested heavily in their defensive line the past few years. It opens the door for some serious competition.

The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up minicamp and are now a month away from the start of training camp. The 90-man roster is just about set, although a transaction here or there would not be entirely shocking. Shortly after the draft we put together a complete roster bubble watch, and now it’s time to re-visit it. The offseason workout program did not lock in most roster spots, but it might give us some hints here and there.

Over the next two weeks, we’re going to take a look at each position, and what the bubble watch looks like. As we’ve done for a while now, the bubble watch breaks down to lock, strong bubble, weak bubble, and longshot. For some positions, we’ll have multiple players listed at strong bubble, even though not all are likely to make the roster. But the idea is that they both stand a good shot, even if it is just one of them. Additionally, this does not reflect whether or not a player will be traded. Trades can and probably will happen during training camp, but the positioning on this focuses on whether or not they’d be cut.

Running back
Wide receiver
Tight end
Offensive Line
Defensive Line

Today, we move on to the defensive line.

Lock: DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Cassius Marsh, Kentavius Street (NFI)
Strong Bubble: Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, Ronald Blair, Jerry Attaochu
Weak Bubble: Jullian Taylor
Longshot: Niles Scott, Blaine Woodson

I really didn’t see much to change in the various options. In our previous bubble watch, some suggested Jullian Taylor deserved to be higher. He has some intriguing potential, but a seventh round pick faces an uphill battle. Adrian Colbert made an impact last year, but a seventh round defensive lineman might be a different story entirely.

The 49ers finished last season with 11 defensive linemen on the roster, but at various times during the season, they had eight or nine when injuries were short-changing them. Aside from Kentavius Street, who will open the season the NFI list, adding all the strong bubble players brings us to nine, Jullian Taylor makes ten.

One of the more interesting players for me is Sheldon Day. The 49ers added him off waivers last season, after the Jacksonville Jaguars surprisingly decided to unload him. The 2016 fourth round pick is entering the third year of his rookie contract, giving the 49ers a cost-controlled depth option behind DeForest Buckner. I listed him as strong bubble, but I’d be pretty surprised if he ended up getting cut. The talent and scheme knowledge is there.

Any surprises come out of all this? I mentioned back in May the idea of Arik Armstead potentially being traded, but I think we end up seeing him getting the bulk of the big end work for the time being. I won’t put anything past the 49ers front office, but I think he sticks around. Beyond that, I’m not sure there is much that will surprise us here.