49ers: #49-Ronald Blair’s Athleticism, Versatility, A Match-Up Nightmare

San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen Ronald Blair brings speed, athleticism, versatility, and match-up problems to the table.

 

Defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil recently talked about Blair being a problem for guards and tackles due to his freakish athleticism.

He can get skinny, come over the soft shoulder, and make plays against an offensive line. Blair is unlike any player they have, “makes plays” wherever he lines up, via the team’s website.

A role that seems to be already talked about is a defensive speed package, therefore allowing Blair to play in nickel and dime packages to apply pressure on the opposing quarterbacks on obvious passing downs by the offense.

SEP 15 2012:Ronald Blair (49) of the Appalachian State Mountaineers looks on while participating in the pregame work out against the Citadel Bulldogs at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone NC. Citadel Bulldogs defeated Appalachian State Mountaineers score of 52 to 28.Photographer: David Scearce /Icon Sportswire
SEP 15 2012:Ronald Blair (49) of the Appalachian State Mountaineers looks on while participating in the pregame work out against the Citadel Bulldogs at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone NC. Citadel Bulldogs defeated Appalachian State Mountaineers score of 52 to 28.Photographer: David Scearce

NFL Notes: In 2015, the league played in at least 63.4% nickel defense.

How’s that relevant to Blair? Expect teams to be in passing situations at least 60% of the time and that bodes well for more opportunities for Blair to rush the passer.

 

Blair’s skillset at a glance:

Blair can play fast, displays quick/strong hands, athletic, and powerful, in fact at the combine he had the second-highest bench press among DL at the NFL combine with 32, per profootballfocus.com.

In college, 52% of his pressures came from the outside; the swim is his go-to move. Also, he’s tough, highly competitive and plays with a chip on his shoulder coming from a small school like App State.

Important to note: Blair can rush inside and outside. (Versatility)

Ronald Blair only had two penalties in more than 1,200 combined snaps his last two years in college.

That says he’s a disciplined player that accepts coaching and displays sound technique to go along with his long arms.

Therefore, potentially offsetting some of the concerns regarding him being undersized as seen shortly in the video below.

Final thoughts:

It would be in Jim O’Neil’s best interest to unleash Blair’s overall skill set, scheme versatility, and natural ability on opposing offenses while allowing him an unrestricted license to wreak havoc.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated.