How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better

Matt Maiocco
NBC Sports BayArea

The 49ers made huge investments in the outside pass rush in the offseason with the trade for Dee Ford and the selection of Nick Bosa with the No. 2 overall pick.

The pass rush has definitely been improved through the first two games of the season. The 49ers have recorded seven sacks and pressure on quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton played some role in four interceptions against Tampa Bay and Cincinnati, respectively.

On Sunday, the 49ers sacked Dalton four times in a 41-17 victory. Yet, Ford and Bosa were shut out. Instead, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas registered sacks. It's that kind of balance that enables the 49ers' defensive line to keep everyone fresh as they play in waves.

"It's amazing," Armstead said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. "You play with such good players, there's no pressure on anybody because you know you're surrounded by amazing players and we go out there and try to attack and get the job done."

A year ago, Blair and Cassius Marsh were the 49ers' top edge rushers. Blair has seen his role reduced with Ford and Bosa coming aboard, but he has embraced his role and feels as if he is a better player because of it.

"I think competition is great for the whole D-line," Blair said on the podcast. "We evaluate each other and see what we can do better, then we try to surpass each other. So it's a whole lot of fun.

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"Everybody wants to see everybody play good. And we kind of feed other each other. I love being around a culture like that, and I hope it continues as the season goes on."

In addition to his sack, Blair also recorded a team-high three tackles of losses in Cincinnati as the 49ers opened the season with back-to-back victories on the road. The 49ers return to action Sunday for their regular-season home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

How 49ers' fierce competition on defensive line makes everyone better originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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