49ers camp battles: Who starts opposite Nick Bosa on defensive line?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

49ers camp battles: How will D-line rotation look opposite Bosa? originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Nick Bosa is the undisputed starter on the 49ers' defensive front, but who will play opposite him is a camp battle to keep an eye on.

Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek have several choices when it comes to who will step in at left defensive end. The group has a lot of depth, which allows them to rotate players, keeping them fresh and able to get after opposing quarterbacks.

In his second season with the club, Samson Ebukam will likely return to the field for a healthy number of snaps on the left side of the line. The 27-year-old appeared in 20 games in 2021, 14 as a starter, registering 4.5 regular-season sacks and two during the playoffs.

Ebukam is reliable and knows the scheme well after a year in the system. The Eastern Washington product is set to improve on his career-best 4.5 regular-season sacks and 11 quarterback hits from 2021.

Kerry Hyder is back after spending a challenging year with the Seattle Seahawks coming off a career-best season with the 49ers in 2020. Hyder appeared in 16 games for the 49ers, 14 as a starter, and registered career bests in sacks (8.5) and tackles (49) -- 30 solo.

The 31-year-old also racked up 10 tackles for a loss and 18 quarterback hits. Hyder’s production dropped when in Seattle, recording 1.5 sacks, 33 tackles -- 20 solo, three tackles for a loss and 11 quarterback hits over 15 games. 
  
Under Kocurek, the 49ers are expecting a bounce-back season for the Texas Tech product. In 2020, Hyder was on the field for 70 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and could prove to be as valuable again in his seventh NFL season.

The 49ers traded with the Houston Texans for Charles Omenihu in the middle of the 2021 season, and he will continue to compete for playing time in the final season of his four-year rookie contract.

Omenihu’s 1.5 sacks were recorded vs. the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round of the playoffs. The Texas alum was on the field for 25 percent of defensive snaps in his nine games with the 49ers, as well as contributing on special teams.

During free agency, the 49ers signed veteran Kemoko Turay, who also has a chance to see playing time on the left side of the line. In his four seasons in Indianapolis, the lineman appeared in 41 games but only three as a starter. As a Colt, Turay registered 12 sacks -- 5.5 in 2021 -- and 29 quarterback hits over his NFL career.

RELATED: 49ers rookie Jackson surprised Bosa with 'impressive' trait

One player who will benefit from the competition between all of the veterans previously mentioned is Drake Jackson. The team drafted the pass rusher in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the No. 61 overall pick.

There will be less pressure on the USC product to perform with the depth at the position. Jackson will be able to develop his craft while under the watchful eye of Kocurek, allowing him to adjust to life in the NFL.

After being asked to play in multiple different positions on the line in college, consistent coaching will also allow Jackson to hone in on specific tasks and ultimately flourish.

The full team will report to Santa Clara on Tuesday, July 26 with their first on-field practice on Wednesday the 27th.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast