The San Francisco 49ers' selection of Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa in the 2019 NFL Draft could help transform a promising-yet-underachieving defensive line into one of the most formidable in the league this season.


Entering 2018, the San Francisco 49ers defensive line was supposed to be one of the few positions of relative strength. Yet after 17 weeks, Football Outsiders ranked this unit 19th in run defense and 18th against the pass.

One should figure that all changes, following the 2019 NFL Draft addition of Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa.

Bosa joins a crop of Niners defenders, many of whom are also former first-round draft picks, such as DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas and the recently acquired Dee Ford, who figures to be the team's other primary outside pass-rusher this season.

"It's unbelievable," Bosa told the media shortly after San Francisco grabbed him at No. 2 overall. "Just to be on a team that really shouldn't have been this high in the draft with all the talent that they have, and then they add Dee Ford, which just makes this D-Line pretty scary, yeah just having, it's pretty impossible to double team any of us because then you're single teaming one of us. It's going to be fun."

San Francisco finished 2018 with just 37 sacks -- tied for 22nd in the league. And while Bosa missed the majority of his 2018 campaign at Ohio State with an abdominal injury, he still remained arguably the top prospect in this year's draft.

The 49ers staff certainly thinks he'll make a difference.

"Just as a coach the hardest thing to handle is going against a tough D-Line, and that's been our goal since we got here, to try to build it that way," head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters during the team's post-selection presser. "We knew we had some good players to start with. We've added some players since we got here, and you always try to take the best guys available, and we've had a lot of guys that are good players that are very similar, and the two guys that we've added to the D-Line this year are kind of the two things that we were missing.

"We needed to get better in that area, and I think what we've already had will make those guys much better."

General manager John Lynch also told reporters previous rumors about Thomas possibly being on the trade block were unfounded, while Shanahan reiterated it's a good problem to have, boasting three interior defenders for two spots, namely for the purposes of rotating players and keeping them fresh.

The hope would be for Thomas, San Francisco's top pick from the 2017 draft, to flourish under new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. Armstead, however, is on his fifth-year option and is poised to hit free agency in 2020.

Unless either Thomas or Armstead winds up being moved in coming days, which is always possible despite Lynch's comments to the contrary.

Consider this, though: San Francisco will be pairing the No. 1 prospect from this year's draft, Bosa, with two Pro Bowlers from 2018, Buckner and Ford, who combined for 25 sacks a season ago. And with Bosa already adding to a decent crop of run stoppers, one can only imagine the Niners seeing a vastly improved defensive front over the course of the upcoming year.

Oh, and the sack production should increase a lot, too.
  • Peter Panacy
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    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.