Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Zain Naqvi: Why the 49ers should avoid Solomon Thomas

Apr 27, 2017 at 9:12 AM--

Zain Naqvi, the co-host of the 49ers Webzone No Huddle podcast, has been very vocal about his opinion of Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and the player's fit on the San Francisco 49ers defense. In short, he doesn't believe that Solomon is a good fit for the 49ers and is not a fan of the majority of mock drafts having the defensive end going to San Francisco.

In our last survey of 101 mock drafts, Solomon was selected by 43. The next closest player was LSU safety Jamal Adams, who was a distant second with 15 mock drafts having him go to the 49ers.

Naqvi, along with No Huddle co-host Al Sacco, joined the Niners Radio podcast on Wednesday and discussed why he believes the 49ers should avoid Solomon with the second overall pick.

"I don't agree with the pick if that's the pick," Naqvi said. "You're talking about a 270-pound defensive tackle. He would be among the smallest 3-tech tackles in the league so he's not going to make his living inside in the NFL. He's going to be outside but the problem is that he's only spent – and he's admitted this – he's only spent 15 percent of his snaps on the outside as a 9-wide or a 5-technique, A.K.A. just a pass rusher.

"So the question really comes down to, 'Are you really going to draft a guy to be a pass rusher when he's only spent 15 percent of his time out there with the second pick?' And you have to ask yourself, 'If it were a quarterback and you're looking for a pocket quarterback, would you draft a pocket quarterback that's only spent 15 percent of the time in the pocket?' Probably not.

"I kind of use that sort of gauge to base my judgment off of. The 49ers have drafted two straight defensive lineman in DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. I'm really high on Buckner, by the way. I think he's going to be a star. It just seems like there's so many other needs right now and Solomon Thomas is kind of one of those guys you're going to ask to change his position. As a number two pick, you shouldn't have to ask a guy to change his position. It should just be a guy that you plug and play right away and can start from day one. But we're talking about having to create schemes for Solomon Thomas to get on the field. He only plays on nickel downs and things like that. You just can't be doing that with your top picks.

"They already spent a first-round pick on a developmental defensive end in Armstead and he was only playing for two years in college when Marcus Peters was sitting there on the board. They just can't continue to do that and expect the team to get better."

Thomas saw his stock rise in 2016 when he had 61 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and was First-Team All PAC-12. That stock rose further following the Sun Bowl against North Carolina and his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash.

While 49ers general manager John Lynch was on his road trip to watch quarterbacks, head coach Kyle Shanahan was at Stanford's pro day on March 23rd. He brought along defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina and running backs coach Bobby Turner during the 13-mile trek west from the 49ers' headquarters in Santa Clara. We can assume that Zgonina was there to look at Thomas while Turner was there to look at running back Christian McCaffrey.

Following Stanford's pro day, Shanahan was asked whether or not Thomas could play at the Leo position on the 49ers' defense. "I believe so," he answered. "I believe he can line up probably anywhere inside that he wants." However, Shanahan admitted that he still needed to do more research on Thomas.

The coaching staff's time at Stanford's pro day was the only reported time the 49ers spent with Thomas. He was not one of the 30 players hosted for a visit at the team's facility.

Naqvi went on to say that he is a fan of LSU safety Jamal Adams being the selection with the 49ers' top pick. "He's an enforcer," Naqvi declared.

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