Mariucci says 49ers' 'decimated' D-line too much to overcome originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Through injuries and roster turnover, the 49ers' biggest strength from a year ago looks little like its old self.
The defensive line is filled with new faces, following the offseason trade of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas' season-ending injuries sustained in Week 2 and the back injury that continues to plague Dee Ford. With the secondary also banged-up, it's no wonder the 49ers have limped to a 2-3 start in 2020.
"It's just unfortunate," NFL Media analyst Steve Mariucci said Tuesday on KNBR's "Papa & Lund." "The 49ers are so talented (with a) great roster, but look at their strength from last year with all of those five first-round defensive linemen. Well, three of them are gone! DeForest Buckner's gone playing for the Colts, and then, of course, Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas are out (for the season). Dee Ford got hurt. I mean, it's just decimated in some ways."
Last season, the 49ers had the sixth-most sacks in the NFL (48) and hurried opposing quarterbacks at a higher percentage (14.7 percent) than any other team, according to Pro-Football-Reference. The 49ers are fourth in hurry percentage this season (12.6 percent), but they're only tied for 18th in sacks (10).
Defensive end Kerry Hyder has stepped up in Bosa's absence, leading the 49ers in sacks (3.5) after five weeks. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones is the only other D-lineman with multiple sacks (2.0), while Arik Armstead -- the only remaining healthy first-round pick along the defensive line that Mariucci referred to -- has 1.5 sacks after recording a career-high 10.0 last season.
The 49ers had hoped their depth would be enough to weather the storm against the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins in Weeks 4 and 5. But the 49ers lost both games and ended that stretch below .500, in last place in the NFC West and now are staring down a stretch of seven consecutive games against teams that, currently, are no worse than .500.
With so many injuries in a vital area, Mariucci said there's only so much the 49ers can do to mitigate those losses.
"You do your best as a coaching staff," Mariucci said. "You have the most depth you can on your roster and hope your backups can play well enough, but, man, the 49ers are in a tough spot with the schedule coming up."