The key to the 49ers defense might be whoever lines up opposite Nick Bosa. The team got contributions from Samson Ebukam, Arden Key, Charles Omenihu and Jordan Willis last season, especially late in the year, and Ebukam, Omenihu and Willis return.
The 49ers, though, used a second-round choice on Drake Jackson, who has a chance to win the starting job.
49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is high on Jackson.
“He’s the whole package,” Kocurek said, via David Lombardi of TheAthletic.com. “We had a combine interview with Drake early on in the process. Bendy dude. He’s got some slipperiness to him. Change of direction, a knack for winning one-on-one in pass rush. A player that should be ascending.
“He was asked to do a lot of things in college, and we’re going to try to narrow it down, try to let him do what he does best — set the edge in the run game, make plays sideline-to-sideline with effort, that type of mentality. Then, once it’s time to sack the quarterback, win one-on-one.”
The 49ers anticipate whoever lines up opposite Bosa will see one-on-ones since Bosa faced the most double-teams of any NFL edge rusher in 2021.
Jackson started for USC three years and left the Trojans with 103 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.