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49ers coaching intriguing pass rusher at 2019 Senior Bowl

Kentucky’s Josh Allen may have backed out of the Senior Bowl, but the 49ers still get the chance to coach one of college football’s top pass rushers.

NCAA Football: TaxSlayer Bowl-Louisville vs Mississippi State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

A positive byproduct of the San Francisco 49ers’ disappointing 4-12 season is the opportunity to coach the Reese’s Senior Bowl at Mobile, Alabama. This week, the team’s coaching staff and scouts are given and up-close and personal look at some of the nation’s top prospects.

Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen, a likely Top 5 pick in April’s NFL Draft, removed himself from the roster the week prior to the Senior Bowl. It was no doubt a disappointment to the 49ers, who are routinely tagged with Allen in mock drafts at second-overall. Despite Allen’s absence, Kyle Shanahan and Co. will still get the chance to coach one of college football’s most prolific defenders in Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat.

Sweat raised eyebrows on Tuesday at the Senior Bowl when he measured in at an impressive 6-foot-6 and 252 pounds. With 9 7/8” hands and 35 5/8” arms, Sweat showcased an 84 1/2” wingspan. It’s the longest for an EDGE prospect since information from the NFL Combine became readily available in 1999, per Draft Network’s Brad Kelly. It’s an impressive frame with production to match.

The Mississippi State pass rusher put together two consecutive seasons of standout play within the SEC. In 2017 and ‘18, Sweat racked up 101 total tackles, 30 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks. Sweat finished his senior season with solid 85.1 grade from Pro Football Focus.

Among the 49ers’ most pressing roster needs is an edge rusher capable of threatening opposing quarterbacks. San Francisco ranked 22nd in the NFL with 37 sacks on the season. The team’s most prominent pass rusher is defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, who totaled 12 sacks this season. Buckner could be even more effective if the 49ers deployed another credible threat along the defensive front.

Sweat won’t be in play for the 49ers at pick No. 2. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Sweat at 19th on his Top 50 prospects of 2019. He also pegged Sweat to the Tennessee Titans at Pick No. 19 in his latest mock draft. With only six selections in this year’s draft, the 49ers may entertain trade offers from team’s looking to move up to second-overall. If the 49ers slide down the draft board on Day 1, or if Sweat somehow falls to the second-round, the Mississippi State pass rusher could become a realistic option for general manager John Lynch.