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Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

49ers DE Drake Jackson has to take a big step in Year 2

Rohan Chakravarthi
Mar 2, 2023 at 2:30 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers had another strong season in 2022, once again reaching the NFC Championship Game, albeit under different circumstances, as the team was down to their third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy, who suffered a torn UCL during the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

A big reason for their success? The stardom of Nick Bosa, who won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2022 after an 18.5-sack season, which was the most, by far, on the 49ers.

Bosa had help from complementary pieces Charles Omenihu, Samson Ebukam, and Drake Jackson, who each earned at least three sacks in 2022.

However, the former two will be free agents this offseason, which stresses the emphasis on Jackson, who has to take a big step in 2023.

The San Francisco 49ers are at the stage of their success where they must start hitting on draft picks to become key role players, as much of their cap space is diverted toward high-caliber players, which means second-rounders like Drake Jackson need to evolve into complementary pieces along the defensive line, where the team should look to upgrade this season.

The 49ers learned a tough lesson this season: having a plethora of rotational players isn't always the better strategy compared to three-down talents along the defensive line, such as their 2019 unit.

With that said, while there should be an imminent desire to add a top player alongside Bosa and defensive tackle Arik Armstead, Jackson's development is integral for the 49ers, as they invested a high draft pick on the USC product, and don't hold a pick until the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft at the moment.

General manager John Lynch spoke about his 2022 second-round pick at the NFL combine earlier this week, acknowledging the importance of Jackson's development, alongside other younger talents.

"Drake Jackson has to take a big step in Year 2," Lynch said, via the Athletic's David Lombardi. "We know that he has that in him. Kalia Davis, our team's counting on him. A lot of people don't even know who he is. We really liked his traits — we believe he can help us but he's got to go show that he can. Internal candidates just need to get better."

In good news, Lynch mentioned that Jackson has been at the facility already, electing to remain in the area early in the offseason.

"Drake made the choice to be back here. He's been back here for about a week. That fires me up because it's what he needs. He needs a great offseason. I don't want to put too much on him but I really believe he's got a bright future in front of him."

Jackson will likely be asked to take on a bigger role in 2023, which likely requires additional strength and seasoning to be conditioned for the entire season, while playing well against the run and the pass, rather than being one-dimensional.

If he can accomplish that goal with another full offseason in the NFL, the 49ers should be in good hands to complement Nick Bosa in 2023 and re-compensate some of the pass-rushing talents they'll likely lose in the offseason.

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1 Comment

  • BigAl
    Most draft picks and average NFL players as a whole dont last long. Thats why when certain writers are always down on somebody its like well your really not saying anything. The odds are never favorable. That being said I really saw something in Drake Jackson...His athletism is unique and I can definitely see him becoming a 3rd down specialist opposite Bosa.
    Mar 2, 2023 at 6:31 PM


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