49ers Prospect Watch: Can Montez Sweat make his mark against Alabama?

Nov 10, 2018 at 7:36 AM


The 49ers are not scheduled to be one of the NFL franchises with a scout in attendance when Mississippi State becomes the latest team to try to stop the Alabama juggernaut, but San Francisco's talent evaluators should still have a close eye on the performance of one Bulldog player in Tuscaloosa.

Last Thursday's victory over the Oakland Raiders and a softer schedule over the coming weeks could see the Niners out of the Nick Bosa sweepstakes, with Nick Mullens providing renewed hope of some further wins that would move San Francisco away from the top pick in next year's draft.

If Bosa is out of their reach, the 49ers will need to look to the other edge rushers in a loaded class, and Mississippi State's Montez Sweat is a member of that class who many believe to be worthy of a first-round pick.


Sweat has dominated SEC competition in recent times: he had 10.5 sacks in 2017 and already has 10 for the 2018 campaign. Yet after failing to register one in the same matchup in Starkville last year, how Sweat fares in attempting to add to his tally against college football's best will go a long way to determining how a player who lacks some of the athletic traits looked for in top-tier edge rushers is thought of in front offices across the NFL.

Lacking the burst off the ball to immediately threaten the outside shoulder of opposing tackles as well as the bend to get around the edge consistently, the physical attribute that Sweat does possess is length.

At 6'6" and 245 pounds the former basketball player unsurprisingly has very long arms to go with plenty of power in his hands, which enables him to swat away punches and get up underneath the pads of linemen and drive them back towards the quarterback. However, that brute force is often undermined by his inconsistent pad level, which is not wholly surprising for a player of his height. Despite his obvious power, Sweat has regularly had problems making an impact when having to front up and deal with blockers head on.

What helps Sweat compensate for those issues is his motor. Sweat fights until the end on every snap, often using a nifty spin to free himself from his block, and many of his sacks have come as a result of sheer persistence.


That may be of concern to 49ers fans who have for much of the last few seasons watched edge rushers fail to win their matchups and create the required disruption. Yet it should be noted that for much of his college career, Sweat has had to play with his hand in the dirt in three and four-man fronts. With the depth the Niners have on their defensive line, that would not likely be asked of him if he is drafted by San Francisco.

Sweat would certainly not be required to be an every-down player immediately and has enough in his repertoire to suggest he could flourish operating on a more limited snap count as a stand-up pass rusher playing alongside DeForest Buckner and Co. on nickel and dime downs.


Sweat complements his hand-fighting abilities with an effective rip move and foot quickness that help him win inside and overcome his inability to get around the edge with burst and bend by doing so in more creative ways, as he did on the play below from last year's Alabama game.


Right tackle Matt Womack is initially in good position to deal with Sweat's rush, but a stutter and a sharp right-footed jab step from Sweat make him think an inside move is coming. That split second of hesitation allows Sweat to burst around the outside and force Jalen Hurts from the pocket.

Though he did not get home on the sack, plays like that suggest he is a player who has nuance to his game as well as power, length and determination. Those qualities have helped him become one of the most dominant defenders in the SEC despite a lack of top-level burst and consistent bend. After drawing a blank against Alabama last year, an influential showing versus the Crimson Tide this time around will provide further evidence of his development in 2018 and should elevate his reputation in the minds of teams like the 49ers, for whom difference making edge rushers have to be the priority in the offseason.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



49ers rookie Trey Lance to make first NFL start, says Kyle Shanahan

By David Bonilla
Oct 8

The San Francisco 49ers hoped quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be able to take part in today's practice and test whether his right leg was strong enough to play on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Garoppolo didn't, and he has now missed an entire week's worth of practice. After practice, head coach Kyle Shanahan said the 49ers are ruling Garoppolo "out" for the Week 5 matchup and that rookie Trey Lance would start in the veteran's place. With Garoppolo sidelined, Lance has received the majority of the practice reps this week. "The more reps you get, the better you're going to get," general manager John Lynch said this morning on KNBR. "He does things exceptionally well. I think he's taken to our offense well. With every rep, he's going to get



Positives and Negatives: What to make of 49ers' loss to the Cardinals

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 12

Another week, another close loss, and another game with multiple missed opportunities for the 49ers. It's been the same narrative during the 49ers' current three-game losing streak, and Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals now puts the team at 2-3 on the season as it heads into its bye week. Huge news came Monday afternoon, as Kyle Shanahan noted that rookie quarterback Trey Lance suffered a left knee sprain and will be out for 1-2 weeks, leaving Nate Sudfeld as the only healthy quarterback currently on the roster. But, we'll get to the future later. First, let's break down Sunday's loss with three areas of needed improvement and four positives that came out of the game. The Problems (Yeah, I'm starting with the



49ers-Cardinals: How to watch, stream, and listen to the Week 5 matchup

By Site Staff
Oct 6

After two consecutive losses at home, the San Francisco 49ers hope to turn things around on the road against the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals. The Niners look to improve to 33-27 overall against the division foe. The Bay Area squad has won three of the past four matchups between the two teams. The 49ers have also won each of the previous two meetings at State Farm Stadium. San Francisco is coming off a 21-28 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium. Arizona is undefeated and coming off a 37-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel finished the game with eight receptions for 156 yards and two touchdowns, marking his first



49ers QB Trey Lance says he didn't take as many hits as it seemed against Cardinals

By Kirk Larrabee
Oct 10

On the surface, it may seem like 49ers quarterback Trey Lance took a bit too much punishment in his first NFL start, having carried the ball 16 times while being on the other end of two sacks and seven quarterback hits. But thankfully, Lance got out of the game unscathed and assured reporters afterwards the hits he took weren't as bad as they looked. Lance spoke to reporters following the 49ers' 17-10 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, during which he ran for 89 yards while also throwing for 192 yards and one interception on 15-of-29 passing. He downplayed any concerns about the amount of hits he took, saying that most of them didn't exactly leave him in pain. "I didn't really think I took too many shots. I'm sure I'll see how I feel tomorrow. A lot of them were


Featured

More by Nicholas McGee

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone