The San Francisco 49ers defensive line will look slightly different heading into the 2022 season without three players who had a big impact on the team’s defensive success last year: DJ Jones (Denver Broncos), Arden Key (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Kentavius Street (New Orleans). saints). The trio finished last season with a combined total of 105 saves, 21 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
To help fill the void left by the departures of Jones, Key and Street, San Francisco added draft capital by selecting Southern California’s Drake Jackson with the 61st overall pick, a starting-caliber defensive rookie that the team hopes they can help sustain the advantage. The 49ers also signed rookies Kevin Atkins and Kalia Davis alongside veteran NFL free agents Kemoko Turay, Hassan Ridgeway and Kerry Hyder Jr..
The 2022 season awaits comeback campaigns for Javon Kinlaw and Maurice Hurst who missed the majority of last season through injury. Kinlaw, who was hoping to stage a revived sophomore, was limited to just four games before undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery in October. General manager John Lynch has since revealed that Kinlaw is back at the team’s facility and appears to be on the right path to recovery.
“It’s nice to see Javon walking around with a smile. He’s out of pain,” Lynch said during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine. “The plan is he could be back in the offseason program, but we want to make sure he’s fully rehabilitated. We don’t want to rush because he’s so critical to our success. He has such a high ceiling.”
As for the 49ers’ D-line veterans, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa are looking to continue where they left off last season. Bosa got his second Pro Bowl nod in 2021 and San Francisco exercised the fifth-year contract option on the rusher for the 2023 season. Armstead notched a career-high 63 total tackles last season after shifted to a primarily inside role on the defensive line. In fact, Pro Football Focus rated Armstead an “underrated veteran” in their 2022 edge rusher rankings.
Despite losing a few defensive playmakers, San Francisco still has a deep and talented defensive line heading into training camp. Can the unit maintain its dominance at the top of the league despite the upheaval along the D line?