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PFF identifies 49ers’ breakout candidate for 2024 season

May 15, 2024 at 8:38 AM

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Bradley Locker, a freelance writer for Pro Football Focus, delved into all 16 NFC teams to pinpoint one potential breakout player for each. For the San Francisco 49ers, that player is former second-round draft pick Drake Jackson, who had an underwhelming sophomore campaign last season before landing on injured reserve.

San Francisco overhauled their defensive line this offseason, bidding farewell to Arik Armstead and others while bringing in edge rushers Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos in free agency. While many anticipate these additions to compensate for the losses, the true impact will only be seen once the regular season kicks off.

"Very quietly, the 49ers experienced some significant losses along their defensive front, namely Arik Armstead, Chase Young, Javon Kinlaw and Clelin Ferrell," Locker notes. "While veteran Leonard Floyd will probably get the opening nod at edge rusher opposite Nick Bosa, depth will be relied upon behind both."

Jackson burst into his second NFL season, notching three sacks in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, this proved to be the peak of his performance, as he struggled to make a significant impact throughout the remainder of the season.

Jackson landed on injured reserve on November 11 due to a knee injury and missed the rest of the season. He ended the season with 14 pressures in 155 pass-rushing snaps and received a career-low 62.6 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus. His dismal 38.9 run-defense grade was one of the lowest on the team, highlighting the need for improvement.

Locker predicts a turnaround for Jackson in 2024, stating, "Expect him to bounce back in 2024."

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