The New York Jets invested in the offensive line this offseason, choosing to use the No. 11 overall draft pick on massive tackle Mekhi Becton out of Louisville. Given that Sam Darnold was among the most-sacked quarterbacks in the NFL last season, that seems like a wise decision.
That improvement will be put to the test Sunday, however, as Darnold and Jets line up across from the 49ers’ defensive line, one of the league’s best units at rushing the QB. The Southern California native was asked about facing the 49ers’ front seven in Week 2, and clearly understands the challenge they present.
"They’re fast, strong and everything you want to see in a front seven,” Darnold told reporters on Thursday. “They’re obviously really good and we’ve been preparing all week for them. So, we’ve just got to take what we do in practice and what we see in meetings and just take that preparation and go execute it on Sunday.”
Jets head coach Adam Gase also was quite complimentary of the 49ers’ defensive line, citing the high motor that was on full display throughout the 2019 season.
“I would say phenomenal get off the ball, they’re attacking,” Gase said on Thursday. “They’re swarming, they’re going after the quarterback. You know, obviously, the pass rush for them is the most important thing, but at the same time you got some toughness and a grittiness. I do love the way that you know these guys, if a ball is thrown or a screener draws around, how they stick their foot in the ground, they go attack the ball, they pursue with a purpose.”
Darnold was sacked three times in the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
If he wants to get through Sunday’s game with a cleaner jersey, Becton and the rest of that group will have their hands full with Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and the rest of the relentless 49ers’ pass rush.