Why 49ers still might want to keep Solomon Thomas beyond 2020 season

Why 49ers still might want to keep Solomon Thomas beyond 2020 season

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.

Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Watch 49ers' Javon Kinlaw replicate Aaron Donald knife training drill

Javon Kinlaw isn't afraid of a few deadly weapons.

The 49ers rookie showed off a seemingly dangerous drill on social media Friday in a video posted by defensive line trainer Cam Spence.

You're correct, those are in fact a pair of knives being wielded and sent in Kinlaw's direction as he bats them away. We've seen a similar drill from two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.

[RELATED: Richard Sherman calls out report on 2020 NFL season negotiations]

Kinlaw was the 49ers' first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, going No. 14 overall. The South Carolina product plugged up the middle for the Gamecocks' defense, picking up six sacks and recovering two fumbles. He likely will have an immediate chance to contribute, as All-Pro DeForest Buckner's departure to Indianapolis leaves a void in the 49ers' defensive line.

The rookie, along with a few returning players looking to earn a contract, will be imperative to make sure that void is filled in order for the 49ers to replicate the dominance the team enjoyed in 2019.

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49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

49ers' Brandon Aiyuk sixth-best rookie receiver in Madden 21 ratings

The Brandon Aiyuk hype among 49ers fans has grown exponentially ever since he was drafted 25th overall in April.

The sixth receiver to come off the board in the 2020 NFL Draft, Aiyuk is expected to make an immediate impact with his elite breakaway speed, which he showcased numerous times during his two seasons at Arizona State.

But based on the just-released Madden 21 ratings, Aiyuk isn't even among the fastest wide receivers in his rookie class. In fact, he's just the sixth-best rookie wideout according to the video game's new ratings, checking in at 72 overall.

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The rookie receivers' overall ratings were almost identical to their draft positions, with the Denver Broncos' Jerry Jeudy and the Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb swapping places being the only alteration.

When it comes to speed, however, Aiyuk checks in as the 10th-fastest rookie wide receiver, behind a handful of players drafted well behind him.

[RELATED: George Kittle 'really proud' of team's offseason work, effort]

Aiyuk's 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine wasn't exactly elite (4.54 seconds), but during his senior season, he was tracked with a top in-game speed of 21.97 mph -- a mark bested by just three NFL players in 2019.

Game speed is different than track speed, and Aiyuk brings game speed in spades every time he takes the field.

Guessing those ratings might be adjusted once Aiyuk actually sees some on-field action in a 49ers uniform.