Why Forty-Niner fans should be Patient with Solomon Thomas

Niners Live keeps a pulse and an ear to these forty-niner Faithful streets and explains: Why Forty-Niner fans should be Patient with Solomon Thomas.

 

Let’s recap how we got here:

The San Francisco 49ers, with the third overall pick via trading back with the Chicago Bears in the 2017 draft selected DE Solomon Thomas; 6′ 3 and 274 lbs out of the University of Stanford.

His resume and scouting report coming out of college:

During his career at Stanford, Thomas amassed 98 total tackles (24.5 going for losses), 12 sacks (8.5 in 2016) while appearing in 26 games. Can you say durability? Yes, you can. His accomplishments and accolades are nothing to sneeze at in 2016: No. 1 run-defense grade (92.0) and No. 6 pass rushing grade (86.9) among FBS interior defensive linemen, All-American honors, and the Morris Trophy, as well as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 (Pro Football Focus).

ESPN college analyst Todd McShay: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford | Watch highlights
The 49ers don’t necessarily need to force it and spend the No. 2 pick on a QB after picking up Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in free agency. What they need is more impact players, and Thomas is the total package off the edge, with size, quickness and power.

What Niners Live said when Solomon Thomas was first drafted:

How he fits:

Thomas has the versatility to play throughout the defensive line and act as a violent disruptor as aforementioned, against the run and pass. Look for new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to deploy Thomas much like the Seattle Seahawks have done with DE Michael Bennett who starts off at left DE (defensive end) but on obvious passing downs kicks inside to be a natural born problem for opposing offensive linemen generating a violent pass rush to throw off the timing off NFL offenses for years to come.

Closing grade (A):

The 49ers take a defensive lineman for the third straight year in a row (2015) Arik Armstead, (2016) Deforest Buckner and now (2017) Solomon Thomas. Note: The 49ers’ defense gave up the most rushing yards in franchise history which also was a league-high totaling 2,654 yards and a much to be desired 33 sacks while being ranked dead last in defense in 2016. The 49ers and general manager John Lynch get this one right (the trenches) by saying enough is enough, and taking a page from the L.A. Rams, they’ve decided to fight fire with fire to create one of the most fierce defensive lines for years to come. GO NINERS!!!

Why Forty-Niner fans Should be Patient with Solomon Thomas

  • Thomas got off to a late start in the offseason and missed OTA’s due to NFL restrictions; NFL rookies cannot join their new teams until their preceding school year is complete. Thomas was highly annoyed and frustrated with the rule (per Matt Maiocco of NBCS).   
  • He’s been slowed and missed games due to injury; a knee MCL sprain.
  • Thomas has been playing out of position. He began the season playing left defensive end on base downs in place of injured Tank Carradine. Before his knee injury, Thomas had switched to the other side, (Leo/outside DE pass-rusher). Thomas should be playing (more inside as a 3-technique) which lines up shaded to the guard’s outside shoulder, ready to shoot the B-gap on his side of the formation. Thomas’ role would be to penetrate the line of scrimmage through his B-gap and disrupt plays in the backfield, whether pass or run. His skill set and the talent level he possesses is more tailor-made for playing inside which relies far more on speed and agility than brute strength, and to his credit, he has all the above. 
  • He’s showed flashes of potential, production and playmaking ability. Like week four against the Arizona Cardinals when he recorded 5 solo tackles total, 1 tackle for a loss and 1 sack. And week six against the Washington Redskins, he registered 9 tackles, 7 coming solo, 1 tackle for a loss and a sack (via ESPN.com). Thomas (recently updated) has 40 tackles on the season with 3 sacks and has provided the violent pressure on the quarterback at times that you expect from a 3rd overall draft pick. 
  • He’s gaining experience (649 total snaps played) which is amongst the highest of all rookie defensive linemen.
  • General Manager John Lynch has his former classmates back to the fullest and because he has the support of the man running the show, Thomas will get every opportunity to be successful. 
  • Solomon Thomas needs a full offseason to refine his technique, get stronger, work on his film study and make adjustments on how his opponents played him in 2017. Also, considering the 49ers retain defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, he would have another year within this 4/3 under scheme and hopefully start at defensive tackle in 2018 next to DeForest Buckner

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course. Often imitated, but never duplicated. 

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims