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Depth on D-line allows 49ers patience in Blair's rehab

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SANTA CLARA -- Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, the 49ers’ top edge rushers, currently are out with leg muscle strains.

But that does not mean the dominance along the team’s defensive line has been sidelined in the past week without them.

The team practiced inside Levi’s Stadium on Friday, and even without the 49ers’ top two outside pass-rushers, they still managed to apply pressure to the quarterbacks with such players as Solomon Thomas, Kerry Hyder and undrafted defensive tackle Darrion Daniels.

“I feel good about that unit,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We’ve got some depth at it and our starters are very good, just like you guys saw last year. We’ve got some depth after that.”

The 49ers anticipate being full strength for the start of the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium. Bosa and Ford should be available, and the 49ers hope Ronald Blair will be cleared after missing the final two months of last season with a torn ACL.

Blair, if healthy, should be able to step into a rotational role as one of the team’s top backups along the defensive front.

“I love Ronald Blair,” Shanahan said. “(We) expect to have him back definitely this year and that hasn't changed. I'm hoping for Week 1. We'll probably get some more clarity in that, probably over next week because we want to make sure to give him a practice before he would come out there, but we're getting close to being able to make a decision on that.”

 

Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, never developed into a full-time starter for the 49ers as many expected him to.

But Thomas has looked sharp and explosive during training camp and appears ready to make a significant contribution as he enters the final year of his original contract. During practice on Friday, he registered two would-be sacks as an inside pass-rusher.

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Hyder's versatility and work ethic make him a big favorite of 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

Shanahan said the team’s confidence in Thomas, Hyder and others could impact how the 49ers plan for Blair’s return to the action.

“It allows us to be somewhat patient with him until he's fully healed,” Shanahan said.