San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Solomon Thomas looked like a man on a mission in his first preseason game.
[DESIMONE: Film Study: 49ers' Solomon Thomas vs. the pass]
The third overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft enters his third professional season ready to reinsert himself as a dominating force on the field. His play in the 24-15 win over the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football in front of a national audience was an impressive start.
Thomas was hard to block vs. the run. Playing outside due to injuries on the defensive line, he did a great job against Denver Broncos starting left tackle Garret Bolles.
On this play, the Broncos tried to run a stretch play to the left side, but Thomas sets the edge by knocking back the block of Bolles, resulting in a tackle by blitzing safety Jaquiski Tartt, who pursued the play backside.
Thomas doesn’t get credit for the tackle, but the play was made because of his effort.
Another play that was a result of great effort occurred early in the first quarter when Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders took the handoff on an end around play and got the edge. Thomas stumbled initially, but regained his balance, sprinted downfield and, along with rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw, aggressively tackled Sanders and limited the damage to a 19-yard gain. The Broncos would finish the drive with three points on a Brandon McManus 31-yard field goal.
An area of concern since Thomas has entered the league has been his ability to rush the passer. His misuse as an edge rusher is well documented. Thomas has shown to be better suited as an interior pass rusher.
In this clip, Thomas “long sticks” (stunts two gaps over), and floored guard Austin Schlottmann with a nasty counter club.
Pro Football Focus analyst Jeff Deeney gave Thomas an interior pass rush grade of 74.4% with two pressures vs the Broncos. His grade dropped to 60.3% with zero pressures when lined up on the edge.
After the game, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan touched on Thomas’ performance.
“...He’s moving different. He's playing a lot more aggressive, I think his mind's a lot clearer and it's showing. I thought he had a good game...and we expect him to because it's been looking that way in practice."
A clear-minded and properly used Thomas will make this 49ers defensive line a big problem for all teams this season.
Media courtesy Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group
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