The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to get more out of second-year defensive lineman Solomon Thomas this season. His 41 combined tackles and three sacks during his rookie campaign left the Niner Faithful underwhelmed. Bigger things are expected of you when you are the No. 3 overall pick.

The 49ers used Thomas on the edge as a pass rusher for much of last season and it doesn't look like that will change in 2018. Andy Benoit of The MMQB feels that a Thomas and DeForest Buckner on the inside of the defensive front could rival the Los Angeles Rams' potential duo of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh as the best third-down tandem in the NFL. I say "potential" because, as of this post, Donald continues to hold out.


While many, like Benoit, believe Thomas is better suited on the inside, he will continue to help set things up along the edge while moving inside on passing downs.

Ironically, Buckner, who many believe is better suited inside, is receiving some work along the edge and opposing offenses could see him there in specific packages as the coaching staff works on ways to free him from double teams.

"We're working through it through training camp, seeing how things go, and, hopefully, it's a thing we can do throughout the year," Buckner said after practice on Monday.

As for Thomas, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has faith that his ability as a pass rusher will develop. While defending Thomas' rookie performance, Saleh said he sees the pass rusher job as the second-hardest position for a young player to learn, behind the quarterback.

"By all accounts, his pass-rushing stuff, it was a learning experience for him," Saleh said during a KNBR interview this week. "There's a big learning curve for those guys, and I felt like he was really good in the run game, did some good things, played with a lot of energy, explosiveness, and all that stuff.

"This year, with him trying to really hone in and get better at that pass rush stuff, you can see it in one-on-ones throughout camp, he's starting to win a little bit more consistently. He's got a genuine plan on attacking edges and maintaining those edges so that way he can get to the quarterback. So even when his first move is stifled, he's able to create a second move to break free and that second move is important because you never know if that quarterback is going to take an extra hitch or two to get the ball off."

Saleh believes that Thomas is built the right way and has a strong desire to get better. That is exactly what 49ers fans want to see as well. The lack of a true Leo pass rusher has forced San Francisco to be creative. The team hopes to generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks as a group rather than rely on a single player. Thomas will be a significant part of that strategy.

"Every day is another opportunity for him to get better and he attacks it," Saleh said.

You can listen to the entire interview with Saleh below.