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The Defensive Line - By Bryan Hersh

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The 49ers defensive line is not exactly drawing praise this season but Anthony Adams and John Engelberger are quietly having nice seasons for the 49ers. Give the 49ers 1-5 record it is hard to believe that anyone is having a nice season, particularly in the trenches, but these two players are indeed having nice seasons. Statistics aside both men are doing their jobs, and this is quite relieving for a fan like myself who has seen nothing until now to be encouraged about the future shape of the 49ers defensive line.

Admittedly I have never given John Engelberger his due. I have always felt he was strong, but never envisioned him as anything more than a backup defensive end. This season as Engelberger has been shifted from one side of the line to the other he has proven to me that he can get to the quarterback and be disruptive. No, he isnít a menace back there, but he is heads and shoulders above the level I had envisioned him to be at.

I have supported Anthony Adams since his arrival in San Francisco. This season I am happy to see he has not let me down. Adams still needs some work against the run, and even at collapsing the pocket, but the second year player is coming along quite nicely. Adams has been able to push offensive lineman back to shrink the pocket and has padded some balls at the line of scrimmage too.

Both Adams and Engelberger have been hampered by playing on a line that has had constantly shifting personnel - none of which are too strong. Starting next week the 49ers may be able to get a little more stability and talent on the line as Brandon Whiting, and Andre Carter are expected to be healthy, and even Andrew Williams who was drafted last year is expected to finally get into the mix. As this group comes together it should be really interesting to see if the defensive line can be disruptive enough to support the rest of the defense.

Next season the 49ers can expect Isaac Sopoaga who was drafted this year to be able to get into action at defensive tackle. The massive Sopoaga should be able to help the 49ers defensive line collapse pockets and stand against the run. Is the future bright for the 49ers defensive line? It may still be too early to tell, but I certainly have more confidence in it now than I did at the start of the season.

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