Remember when the San Francisco 49ers defensive line was underwhelming? It was DeForest Buckner, and that was pretty much it. Now it’s the San Francisco 49ers defensive line, starring DeForest Buckner and friends.
The defensive line has been nothing short of impressive, so much that Kyle Shanahan’s life won’t be easy when he has to start cutting players. John Lynch might have other ideas. In an appearance on KNBR last week, Lynch said teams are calling about possible trades from the unit:
“I think in general, I think that is one of the things that we’re happy about, but it’s also going to make for some tougher decisions. The back end of our roster, there’s some real strong players—more than we can keep, and that’s what you want. It will make for some tough decisions.I’d be lying if I told you people haven’t been calling, but we’re still trying to figure it out ourselves, what the right mix is. Sometimes that doesn’t always mean the 53 most-talented guys. It’s a lot of discussions about what’s going to make us the strongest team. Some guys that have tremendous versatility, that comes in handy.There’s all kinds of different decisions and evaluation points. Those are ongoing, and those are good problems to have, but there are a ton of discussions that are really tough ones because we’ve got a lot of guys who are capable of making this roster.”
Teams will start making calls around the league for prospects and players that may be a better fit in their system. That’s the standard operating procedure. For the younger players, they would make the calls to get trades going to secure that player’s rights. When teams cut their roster down, everyone hits waivers, and there’s no guarantee an interesting club could get a particular player that route.
Now that said, don’t be expecting first or second-round picks for the defensive line talent here. These players didn’t get to play in the training camp of the team they are going to and will need to be brought up to speed with the system, that takes time. A trade offer to the 49ers would be for the potential of the prospect and the contract. If some of these linemen could start for the 49ers, that doesn’t mean they could start day one with somewhere else. Unless if a team is going to want a proven veteran like Arik Armstead, the draft compensation will be somewhere in the fourth fifth or (more probable) sixth round.
Regardless, the 49ers have some serious talent on this line, and they can’t keep it all. A lot of this can be credited to their new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. The change is sudden, but there seems to be immediate production under Kocurek than Jeff Zgonina, which might be why the latter got canned in the offseason.
This could be good for 2020. Even if the 49ers get a couple of seventh rounders for some players, those can be used to package things up and jump up in an earlier round.
Or they just make their cuts and these players sign wherever. At least the 49ers roster has improved enough they have other teams calling them with interest for certain players.