Yes, yes, glad to see you again or for the first time, Empire faithful. Welcome to (or back) to the Silverado for another short ride. I know we’re headed to Century Link, and we’ll get there. But we have a little time, so I’m going to take us on a brief but very beneficial detour. I’ll be making this next right up here at the next Street, Kentavius Street.
Believe it or not, he could be exactly what this defensive line needs. Think about it; he’s versatile, strong as an ox, ala the nickname Baby Hulk. He’s got good quickness, is good with his hands, has a move or two that allows him to win, and has a motor. He also has good bend on the edge.
Look, this 49ers defense has suffered multiple blows via injury this season that’s fact, not fiction. The interior and edge of the defensive line were both hit. They were truly playing the best defense we’ve seen in years, shutting teams down across the board and winning convincingly. But then injuries started.
Before then, the defense was smothering teams historically with a very dominant pass rush from the front four, allowing linebackers Kwon Alexander and Fred Warner to play free. They could play coverage and fill gaps, and tackle without the burden of blitzing. This then provided the comfort and freedom of sound coverage/play in the secondary.
Don’t take my word for it though, I mean I do live by the “I’ll lie for you before I lie to you” creed, so I’d never steer you wrong. But I grabbed a couple of clips of him along with a scouting tweet on him for you to view so you can make your own decision. I know it’s a small sample size, but he shows promise. And right now, this defense needs some promise from the interior/edge outside of DeForrest Buckner and Arik Armstead. ROLL TAPE:
#KentaviusStreet #49ers great effort player who can beat a blocker inside or outside across their face down the line of scrimmage.He is quick enough to run down a back from behind.The avid weight lifter has man strength to shed blockers. A gd athlete with spd, qks & explosiveness pic.twitter.com/qzQ7IBAwYh— Dan Shonka (@Ourlads_Shonka) April 28, 2018
Kentavius Street in his first NFL debut after being red-shirted last season. Plays interior/end and you see him in the new wide 9 on some of these clips. 47 Snaps, 60.3 Grade. Stats: 3 Tackles, 1 Asst, 1 Pressure, 1 Hurry, 2 Stops. #KentaviusStreet #49ers @SupaStreet35 #BabyHulk pic.twitter.com/Fy2dZNUl58— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) August 14, 2019
They call him “Baby Hulk” and Kentavius Street will make his NFL debut for the #49ers on Sunday!— ourSF49ers (@OSf49ers) December 13, 2019
A long road back from a torn ACL, but hopefully his fresh legs can help the depleted depth of the DL.
A very strong DL, he could help fill the void left by DJ Jones in the middle. pic.twitter.com/12KVMXMMUa
All the 49ers are really missing with Ford still out is more help on the edge. Somebody to apply enough consistent pressure to force quarterbacks off their spot and to throw before they’d like. Sacks will be great too, but it’s the presence of pressure that’s the key. I’ve always said, it doesn’t always have to be sacks, as we see with Nick Bosa. Although he’s still been effective, Bosa can’t do it by himself. He’s going to get his regardless, but he too can benefit from more rest. Armstead can also move back inside to the 3T, where he does his best work with a strong performance by Street.
Don’t get me wrong, Armstead has been holding it down out on the edge in terms of making plays in general, but he’s not an “edge” rusher. Street could be the missing piece and rotational piece once Ford is healthy, to help keep Ford fresh on the edge. Call it load management if you will. If Street can truly play to his Baby Hulk nickname on the edge, I feel he can be the dawg the front four needs and give CPR to this pass rush that was slowing dying due to injuries. This front four could again have life.
Based upon his reaction to being back on the field, I’d say he’s ready for the challenge.
Kentavius Street says he’s ready if all this 49ers attrition on the defensive line means that his name will he called for Sunday: “I could run through a wall right now.”— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) December 11, 2019
At 6’2 287, Street can play on the edge (help fill the void of missing Ford) and has the talent/potential to excel. As you can see, he gets after the passer and can make plays in the run game as well. All he needs is a shot, and now he has it.
BREAKING NEWS: Jullian Taylor to IR with torn ACL.
The #49ers absorb another blow to their depth on the D-line. DT Jullian Taylor sustained a season-ending ACL injury during practice on Thursday, coach Kyle Shanahan said. Rookie DT Kevin Givens is being promoted from practice squad.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) December 27, 2019
You know how this goes, NEXT MAN UP! Givens actually looked solid in his preseason work. Even Baldy got excited watching him and talking about his potential. ROLL TAPE!
.@49ers #KevinGivens, an UFA from @PennStateFball, played 37 snaps last night and started and finished the game. And in between he was their BEST DL. In a crowded room full of BIG $$& players could this unknown be the biggest surprise? #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/yZgfJd1J9U— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) August 20, 2019
It looks like both Street and Givens will both have an opportunity to have impacts try and breath life back into this front four. I’m actually very excited to see both these guys take the stage. Street is a threat to get home off the edge and Givens is so quick in the middle and can be very disruptive.
This may actually end up being a two for one deal here. The 49ers lost Taylor, but have now gained potential play makers in Street and Givens. And both these dawgs are hungry, starving, famished even. And they’re ready to eat.
I’ll wrap this up
Most teams can’t and don’t sustain a high level of play after these types of key injuries and never recover enough to still make a Super Bowl run. This 49ers team is doing so as we speak, and nobody is really talking about it. See, most of these analysts would rather focus on how the numbers have plummeted over the back half of the season (due to injuries) instead of the fact they’ve managed to play pretty good defense considering.
Though their rush defense has dropped off, now allowing 111.8 yards a game (ranked 17th), their pass defense is only allowing 165.6 yards a game (ranked 1st). Even with the blown (zone) coverage (lack of communication and pass rush due to starters out) and missed tackles, they’ve only lost three games by a total of 13 points.
As you know, the pass rush and coverage are married to one another. And like any successful marriage, both parties need to be at their best and giving their best for the betterment of each other. While not having Ronald Blair and DJ. Jones are tough blows and puts a strain on that marriage; it’ll just be another blow to push through. Luckily for the 49ers, Street (and now Givens) are hungry, primed, and ready to help soften that blow. Ironically, I feel they’re both ready to make an impact.
If Street can truly play like his Baby Hulk nickname, causing havoc on the edge and newly promoted defensive lineman Givens can fill even some of the void in the middle, it will bode well for this defense they will again be able to get pressure with four.
The time is now!
I know he still has to prove himself at this level, but so long as Street can contribute enough to hold the defense over until Ford gets back and allow Ford to get occasional rest, this could again be a fun front four to watch. I, for one, am looking for Street, aka Baby Hulk, to have an impact very soon. Can you see the headline? Baby Hulk smashes Beastmode on the way to a 49ers victory, division title, and first-round bye. LET’S GO!