Some interesting news from San Francisco 49ers training camp has been the reports on looks of trying defensive tackle DeForest Buckner at the edge and kicking Solomon Thomas inside. While this could be a preparation for utter disaster, the results have been impressive.
And I’m not talking about Buckner.
Thomas has been a beneficiary as well. In fact defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has been praising his improved pass rush regardless of position. Last December, Saleh said that Thomas will eventually “make his hay” on the inside. We don’t know the extent of that plan for 2018, but thus far, it seems to be providing better results than keeping him on the edge the entire time.
This was something planned for Thomas in college. When Thomas prepared for his senior year, Stanford head coach David Shaw admitted the plan was to put Thomas on the edge in early downs and kick him inside for pass rushing. Unfortunately that never happened since Thomas declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Thomas was not horrible in 2017. He was a solid run-stopper, but just couldn’t shed blocks and get to the quarterback. When you’re the third overall pick, sacks are expected.
With a stunted rookie season (due to a stupid NFL rule) and a bit of a late bloomer approach, many thought Thomas was a disappointment. Perhaps he just needed a year and a bit of some movement along the line to flourish.
It’s not just Buckner who’s done well on the edge, maybe this was all for Thomas’ benefit.