The 49ers recorded one sack last week, and it was not exactly impressive.
The lone sack came 4.5 seconds after the start of the play when the shot-gun snap was mishandled and some on the Arizona Cardinals offensive line stopped blocking for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, thinking the play was over.
The pass rush continues to be an issue, and former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia, an NBC Sports Bay Area analyst, points out the defensive front must disrupt Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams in the next two weeks to avoid giving up large point totals.
Defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, a first-round draft pick in 2016, leads the 49ers with 3.5 sacks. The other members of the defensive line have combined for 3.5 sacks.
Arik Armstead, a first-round selection in 2015, and Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in 2017 from Stanford, have combined for one sack. Armstead got credit for a sack when Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes ran out of bounds for a 1-yard loss in Week 3.
Thomas has not been a factor for the 49ers’ defense, but former 49ers safety Donte Whitner does not put the blame on him. He said Thomas is playing out of position.
“I’m not disappointed in him individually because I think he was put into the wrong situation,” said Whitner, an analyst on NBC Sports Bay Area, during an appearance Wednesday on KNBR-AM. “When you watch him on run downs and quick screens, he makes plays on the football and tackles in the open field. He’s an outside 3-4 linebacker who can rush the quarterback and drop some in coverage.
“He’s not a 4-3 defensive tackle, and he’s not a 4-3 defensive end. He’s a guy who can stand up, see what’s going on and pursue the football.”
Thomas starts at pass-rush end in the 49ers' base 4-3 scheme, then shares time with Armstead as an inside pass-rusher in nickel situations.
Whitner said Thomas reminds him of Ahmad Brooks, who played outside linebacker in the 49ers’ 3-4 scheme. Thomas is listed at 6-foot-2, 280 pounds. Brooks was listed at 6-3, 260, but his ideal playing weight was closer to 270 and he often played heavier.
“If he goes to a 3-4 team and he plays rush linebacker, I think you’d see a totally different player,” Whitner said of Thomas.
Here are the 49ers’ top pass rushers through five games, according to Pro Football Focus:
--DeForest Buckner (171 pass-rush snaps): 3.5 sacks, 5 hits, 13 hurries. Total pressures: 22
--Arik Armstead (133): 1 sack, 3 hits, 10 hurries. Total pressures: 14
--Cassius Marsh (131): 1 sack, 1 hit, 10 hurries. Total pressures: 12
--Sheldon Day (61): 1 sack, 0 hits, 7 hurries. Total pressures: 8
--Solomon Thomas (106): 0 sacks, 2 hits, 6 hurries. Total pressures: 8
--Ronald Blair (105): .5 sacks, 3 hits, 3 hurries. Total pressures: 7
--Earl Mitchell (67): 0 sacks, 2 hits, 2 hurries. Total pressures: 4