Drake Jackson, now 13 pounds heavier than he was last season, is pleased with his physical progress but knows there is more work to be done in order to establish himself as a consistent contributor on the 49ers' defensive line.
The second-year defensive end joined NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco on the latest episode of "49ers Talk," where he was asked about the improvements he has made to his body and if he is pleased with the progress he made throughout the offseason.
"I do see the improvements for sure," Jackson told Maiocco. "The day I came (to the 49ers), I took a picture of myself and then I kind of used that picture to see where my body was then. But I try not to look in the mirror a lot because at least for me, I'm looking at myself like 'Oh this is nice right here,' but I still need to do more. I don't have the lowest body fat, I'm not the strongest, so there's something I can still work at. It's kind of ... I am loving where I'm at, but I'm kind of torn because I can't love it for long. I gotta go do more."
Selected with the No. 61 pick in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Jackson started off his rookie season hot, recording three sacks in his first five games played. The then-21-year-old then slowed down physically throughout the season, eventually leading to him being inactive on game days.
“It was a long season,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said in February of Jackson's decline. “And I think he learned as a year goes, if you lose any power in this league, it gets a lot harder.”
“We had a decent group of rushers and as the year went out and towards the end, it got too long for him, and his body wasn't quite ready for what we needed."
Fast forward four-plus months and Jackson is noticeably bigger and ready to bounce back in Year 2.
"There's somebody out there trying to take our spot too," Jackson explained. "So it's the same way, I can't stop. I never can stop."
Jackson weighed in at 254 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine last spring and mentioned last week that his goal is to maintain a weight of 260-to-265 pounds. However, Jackson is not too focused on what the scale reads.
"I had a lot of baby fat, I was young ... I really don't like to look at the weight," Jackson added. "Now I wouldn't say I like to look at the weight, I'm just focusing on getting bigger and stronger every day and whatever the weight falls at is wherever the weight falls at. But I feel good moving, I feel very powerful so if my body feels the part I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing."
The 49ers expect big things out of Jackson during the 2023 season and after the departures of defensive ends Charles Omenihu, Samson Ebukam and Jordan Willis in free agency this offseason, the USC product has an opportunity to establish himself as a consistent pass-rush threat alongside Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave.