Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Heavier Solomon Thomas put the burden of being the No. 3 pick behind him, ready to make an impact along the interior

Aug 22, 2020 at 1:58 PM--

Solomon Thomas could play a significant role along the interior of the San Francisco 49ers defensive line. He says he's around 280 to 282 pounds right now. That's about 15 to 20 pounds heavier than his playing weight last year, says Thomas.

Thomas has been getting a lot of work as a defensive tackle. It's where he is most comfortable and where he has found more success.

"I prefer playing inside, so I like it," Thomas said on Saturday. "I like playing nose. I like playing 3-tech."

The former No. 3 overall pick knows there are challenges playing along the interior when you are on the smaller side, even with his added bulk. That just means relying on his other skills.

"I don't weigh as much as most defensive tackles," Thomas continued. "I have no choice but to get off. I have no choice but to attack. That is the biggest thing for me.

"Being a smaller interior defensive lineman, you have to be able to get off. You have to be able to play well with your hands. You have to play low. So, that's what I have to do every play to make it in there.

"Definitely, it's where I feel natural at. It's where I made my money in college. That's where I feel good."

Thomas says he worked hard to bulk up this offseason but feels comfortable at his current weight. While he may not weigh as much as many other defensive tackles, he rattled off some names, like Aaron Donald and Michael Bennett, who found success in the same range.

"The league is definitely moving to guys who can be quicker and more explosive, and those are some guys to look up to, and I've watched over my career," said Thomas.

As far as the pressure of being the No. 3 overall pick, Thomas doesn't let that impact how he attacks his preparation anymore.

"I feel like that will always be on my shoulders, with the label of being the third pick, but I have mentally learned to put that behind me," Thomas said. "That's not what I'm playing for. I'm playing to be the best me, no matter what.

"The expectations I worry about are the expectations I put on myself, and those are higher than anybody else's. That's what I've got to go back to every day. That's what I've got to wake up and look in the mirror and look at every day.

"I'm just worried about being the best me I can be every play, every day, and for this team."

There is also the burden of an unknown future. Thomas is entering the final year of his rookie deal after the 49ers declined to pick up his fifth-year option.

"This year is huge for me," Thomas added. "Obviously, it's a contract year, but that's not what's important to you. That's not what is in the back of my mind. I take it as a year to come into myself.

"I'm back in the interior, where I played in college, where I got drafted for in college. So, I'm back in the spot where I can go wreak havoc, where I can go play."

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