How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better

How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better

The 49ers made huge investments in the outside pass rush in the offseason with the trade for Dee Ford and the selection of Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick.

The pass rush has definitely been improved through the first two games of the season. The 49ers have recorded seven sacks and pressure on quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton played some role in four interceptions against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, respectively.

On Sunday, the 49ers sacked Dalton four times in a 41-17 victory. Yet, Ford and Bosa were shut out. Instead, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas registered sacks. It’s that kind of balance that enables the 49ers’ defensive line to keep everyone fresh as they play in waves.

“It’s amazing,” Armstead said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “You play with such good players, there’s no pressure on anybody because you know you’re surrounded by amazing players and we go out there and try to attack and get the job done.”

A year ago, Blair and Cassius Marsh were the 49ers’ top edge rushers. Blair has seen his role reduced with Ford and Bosa coming aboard, but he has embraced his role and feels as if he is a better player because of it.

“I think competition is great for the whole D-line,” Blair said on the podcast. “We evaluate each other and see what we can do better, then we try to surpass each other. So it’s a whole lot of fun.

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“Everybody wants to see everybody play good. And we kind of feed other each other. I love being around a culture like that, and I hope it continues as the season goes on.”

In addition to his sack, Blair also recorded a team-high three tackles of losses in Cincinnati as the 49ers opened the season with back-to-back victories on the road. The 49ers return to action Sunday for their regular-season home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

George Kittle returns to practice, expected to play vs. Washington

George Kittle returns to practice, expected to play vs. Washington

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers tight end George Kittle showed up on the injury report with a groin strain last Friday. Two days later, he looked completely healthy going up against the Los Angeles Rams.

Kittle was held out of practice on Wednesday, but he returned to limited work during the 49ers’ padded work on Thursday at their team facility. Kittle downplayed the team’s report of his physical condition and is expected to play Sunday against Washington.

Kittle caught eight passes for 103 yards in the 49ers’ 20-7 victory over the Rams on Sunday.

However, the 49ers had seven players who did not participate in Thursday's practice. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon remain out of action.

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Running back Raheem Mostert (knee), wide receiver Deebo Samuel (groin) and nose tackle D.J. Jones (hamstring) sustained injuries in the 49ers’ win over the Rams that have kept them from practicing thus far this week.

49ers practice report

Did not practice
DT D.J. Jones (hamstring)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (knee)
T Mike McGlinchey (knee)
RB Raheem Mostert (knee)
WR Deebo Samuel (groin)
T Joe Staley (fibula)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon (foot)

DE Dee Ford (quadricep)
TE George Kittle (groin)
CB K'Waun Williams (hand)

Washington practice report

Did not practice
S Deshazor Everett (ankle)
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring)
G Wes Martin (chest)  
CB Josh Norman (thigh, hand)
RB Chris Thompson (toe)

TE Vernon Davis (concussion)

Full participation
QB Case Keenum (right shoulder, foot)
RB Adrian Peterson (quadricep)

NFL trade deadline: Position-by-position look at 49ers' plan of attack


NFL trade deadline: Position-by-position look at 49ers' plan of attack

The NFL trade deadline is set for Tuesday, Oct. 29. But some teams, such as the Los Angeles Rams, did not wait until the last minute. There were a flurry of trades Tuesday – a full two weeks before the deadline.

Meanwhile, the 49ers have not made a trade since a couple of deals on the third day of the NFL draft in late-April.

Still, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan are looking forward to adding multiple starting players to their lineup in the coming weeks.

No, the 49ers are not expecting to acquire a player or two from outside the organization at any cost. Instead, they expect to shore up some areas of their team with the return of key players from injuries.

The 49ers expect to fortify their lineup with the returns of offensive tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon and slot receiver Trent Taylor.

Lynch and Shanahan said the club is always looking to improve, but they always will weigh the short-term benefit and the long-term advantage of any trade.

Here's a position-by-position look at the 49ers’ prospects for making a trade