Amidst the San Francisco 49ers‘ brewing quarterback controversy between incumbent Jimmy Garoppolo and young upstart Trey Lance and the Deebo Samuel saga, they have made a couple of improvements.
Most notably, they added Charvarius Ward, a young cornerback who should shore up their secondary.
San Francisco also took Drake Jackson, a defensive end from the University of Southern California, in the second round of last week’s National Football League draft.
Assuming Samuel recommits to the team and it figures out the QB position, it is poised for another long run in the playoffs next season.
However, if it wants to win its first Super Bowl in a quarter-century, there is a need it will have to shore up.
The 49ers Need A Little More Pass Rushing
In Nick Bosa, the Niners already have one of the game’s premier pass rushers.
Since he was taken with the second pick in the 2019 draft, he has reached the Pro Bowl in two of his three seasons, and if he had been healthy in 2020, he may have made it three straight Pro Bowl nods.
Bosa was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2019 for putting up nine sacks, 25 quarterback hits and two defended passes.
This past season, he improved to 15.5 sacks, 32 QB hits and a league-high 21 tackles for loss.
📺 CBS pic.twitter.com/ryzhc05zwa
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) December 13, 2021
Nick Bosa is on a whole other level. What many people look at is sack numbers, because they're awesome, and he's top 5. What many don't look at, is the film. Where the things you see in every game are so absurd that you have to laugh about how opposing offenses game plan for him. pic.twitter.com/5CHFDQZa7J
— 49ers_Film (@49ers_Film) January 13, 2022
But to truly make opposing signal-callers uncomfortable, an NFL team needs more than one man who can execute a pass rush.
One can look at the world champion Los Angeles Rams, who put the clamps on Joe Burrow in the Super Bowl when needed thanks to defensive lineman Aaron Donald and linebacker Von Miller.
Their co-tenants at SoFi Stadium, the Los Angeles Chargers, will be able to make life for opposing QBs a living hell this coming season with Joey Bosa, Nick’s older brother, and new addition Khalil Mack.
The Niners put up some solid defensive numbers in 2021, ranking third in total yards allowed and sixth in passing yards allowed.
But those numbers may be misleading, as they were unable to pressure Rams QB Matthew Stafford enough in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game.
Instead of holding onto a 17-7 lead, San Francisco allowed Stafford to move the chains and get L.A. a touchdown and two field goals to clinch a spot in Super Bowl LVI.
Can Jackson Become The Niners’ Second Pass Rusher?
Jackson didn’t put up earth-shattering numbers in three years at USC, as he registered just 12.5 sacks and 25 tackles for loss in 27 games.
However, he has impressive physical qualities.
Jackson stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 250 pounds, and scouts have been reasonably impressed with his athleticism.
But he has had trouble getting past stronger offensive linemen, and scouts have said that he needs to get stronger, tougher and more skilled to become a great pass rusher in the pros.
Luckily, the 49ers have Kris Kocurek as their defensive line coach, and he has a reputation for developing effective players who have had talent.
He has helped Nick Bosa become a star, and in the past, he has worked with other notable players such as Ndamukong Suh.
Perhaps Kocurek will help Jackson become the best version of himself and the additional piece the Niners could use on their front seven.NEXT: Is Kyle Shanahan To Blame For The Deebo Samuel Saga?