Familiarity: DC Robert Saleh Needs a Violent Disruptor, “Solomon Thomas”

Just when you thought Niners Live was out of classic hits in the making or game changers delivered from a fresh and different perspective, we bring you: Familiarity: DC Robert Saleh needs a Violent Disruptor, “Solomon Thomas.”

 

Disclaimer: This article isn’t about what position techniques Thomas can or cannot play. If you’re looking for another technique article, sorry, you’ve come to the wrong place. Turn back now. You’ve been warned!

The recap and full breakdown:

On February 16, 2017, Niners Live brought you: Who’s Your Dark Horse? Featuring “DE Solomon Thomas”; on March 20, 2017, Fearless Predictions: The 49ers Draft “DE Solomon Thomas”; and on April, 6, 2017, Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford.

Kiper: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford | Watch highlights
I think San Francisco will wait on a quarterback (maybe Kirk Cousins in 2018?). Outside of the Browns, the 49ers have the worst talent on their roster from top to bottom, and picking Thomas would beef up their defense. He’s a different player than the D-linemen the 49ers have taken in the first round the past two years (DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead) and has double-digit sack potential (ESPN.com).

Violent Disruptor in the Building:

Solomon Thomas has drawn several comparisons to many top-notch defensive linemen who have been violent disruptors throughout their NFL careers: Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt, L.A Rams’ Aaron Donald, former/retired San Francisco 49ers’ Justin Smith, and Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett.

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.

Thomas and Bennett comparison/role:

Bennett, at 6’4″ and 271 lbs., plays left end for the Hawks and on obvious passing downs he moves inside to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Even though Bennett has amassed 45.5 sacks in his eight-year career (30.5), coming with Seattle he also has 190 career total tackles, and has been an equally opportunistic disruptor against the run and the pass. His versatility sets the tone for the Hawks’ defense, especially their secondary. So much so that, recently, Bennett was awarded a three-year contract extension at 31 years young. Thomas, at 6′ 3″ and 274 lbs., can play the same role as Bennett with a bigger upside and impact within the defense that new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh wants to deploy from his former team’s, the Seahawks, playbook…

Note: The 49ers are still trying to stop/contain Bennett from being the disrupting force that he is. Isn’t it time to beat Seattle at their own game?

Operation Familiarity:

First-time defensive coordinator Robert Saleh is taking over a unit that got manhandled during the last two seasons, especially in 2016 when the 49ers ranked dead last in defense. And against the run? The 49ers surrendered a league high 2,654 yards, which is more than in any other year in the history of the franchise. How does Saleh help fix or solve this issue by putting his two cents in prior to/on draft day on a player or players that mimic what he’s been familiar with in his previous stops as aforementioned a la Bennett/Thomas?…  A common theme that’s been on display this offseason in free agency with the likes of Malcolm Smith, Brock Coyle, and Dekoda Watson, just to highlight a few at a glance.

Game Recognizes Game:

Anyone remember when the St. Louis Rams (now the L.A. Rams) drafted and stockpiled a wealth of talent over the last few years along their defensive line via the draft/all first round selections? The Rams have become one of the most feared defensive fronts in the NFL over the last few seasons. Drum roll/call, please: Michael Brockers 6-6, 322 lbs.; Aaron Donald 6-1, 285 lbs.; Robert Quinn 6-4, 270 lbs.; and Chris Long 6-4, 275 lbs. Even though Long has gone on to greener pastures (Philadelphia Eagles no pun intended), the 49ers still have to deal with three first rounders within the front seven of the Rams’ defense for many years to come, especially with new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips on the scene and at the helm. “You fight the fire with fire.” Are your eyes wide open?

Paging: DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. There’s an open invitation in the backfield with a featured/opposing running back and quarterback, and they must be stopped at all costs (hosted by Solomon Thomas from Stanford).

Let’s play back the tape, shall we?

They say he’s not strong enough to beat double teams in the run game and doesn’t show speed/quickness on tape. Oh, really? NFL draft analyst for NFL.com, Lance Zierlein, sees it a little differently, and by watching the tape, you might have to agree with him.

Note: Thomas does have a missed opportunity/tackle for a potential lost in the backfield in this footage. Multiple slides, as seen below.

It’s time to now leave you with this:

Throw techniques out the window for a second; can this guy ball? Hold that thought…

This game of football is won from the inside out (in the trenches). You need relentless effort/dog mentality, You need players that reek of passion, leadership, raw emotion, high character and love for the game. You can build a culture and a franchise around this type of player that checks all the boxes and promotes winning with anger and class, if you will… When you’re a 2-14 team, that means everyone has pushed you around and bullied you up and down the block and around the corner… (The trenches must be addressed with the first pick in the 2017 April draft.)

Simply put, as fellow Niners Live writer and family member Jimi would say,
That’s my story/argument on Solomon Thomas and I’m sticking to it.”

On a curve ball note, we wouldn’t mind seeing what was recently discussed on Niners Live: Why the 49ers Need to Address the Heir Apparent to NaVorro

On a Niners Live side note:

There have recently been some talks (via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee) of a possible trade scenario with the Carolina Panthers who currently hold the number eight overall pick. Solomon Thomas seems like a top-five lock and the Jacksonville Jaguars really like him if he’s on the board at No. 4. If the 49ers can trade down with the likes of the Panthers, Jags, Cleveland Browns, and the Tennessee Titans, there’s no doubt they would to pick up additional quality picks.

However, if they were to stay put at #2, by hook or by crook, or by default, it’s this writer’s position that that selection should go to Mr. Thomas aka 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).

Recent 49er news:

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Editor Niners Live.