The 49ers’ decision to decline the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Solomon Thomas was the only reasonable option for general manager John Lynch.

But just because the 49ers determined Thomas is not worth paying $12.321 million for the 2021 season, it does not mean that Thomas has only one season remaining with the organization.

Two years ago, the 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on defensive lineman Arik Armstead at the same time they declined the option on guard Laken Tomlinson.

However, the 49ers also made it clear while they were not willing to pay Tomlinson a one-year salary of $9.625 million, they wanted to keep Tomlinson around for a while. Two months later, the 49ers signed Tomlinson to a four-year, $18 million extension.

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The 49ers’ decision to select Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft was an immediate miss for Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Thomas has not risen above being more than a rotational player along the 49ers’ defensive line. He is a solid backup who fits well into the overall team concept. Obviously, the 49ers expected more production from a player chosen so early.

 

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Depth along the defensive line is a key ingredient to the success of any team, and the 49ers will always look to have seven or eight defensive linemen on the roster and mixing into the rotation. Thomas is a good fit for such a role because of his versatility and willingness to do what’s asked of him.

The 49ers would certainly be open to keeping Thomas around beyond this season with a low-level contract that works into their salary structure. And with the level of support Thomas has received from the organization through some difficult times in the early portion of his career, there is little doubt he would feel comfortable remaining in this union, too.