The Eight Man DL Rotation
August 14 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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Steve Mariucci has stated repeatedly this off-season that he would love to have eight solid defensive linemen in a rotation. Mariucci knows that the 49ers pass rush was lacking last year, and believes that his inability to rest his starters, as well as provide a variety of different defensive fronts was one cause for this. This season, Mariucci feels things will be different.
The starting line is not expected to change from last year. Bryant Young and Dana Stubblefield will man in the inside, with Andre Carter and John Engelberger on opposite ends. Mariucci feels the extra year of playing together and Carter having his rookie season behind him will boost this group to begin with. But itís the depth chart that has really changed.
Reggie McGrew and Chike Okeafor remain as top men off the bench. McGrew has had a good off-season for a change, and Okeafor has pushed Engelberger all summer. The team added Jim Flanigan and Sean Moran to the mix, and so far Moran especially has really stuck out as a great addition. Josh Shaw is another player the 49ers have high hopes for, but he will have to recover from his knee injury before returning to the tackle position. John Schlect is in a similar situation after having a rather impressive season last year with the 49ers.
Having eight solid defensive linemen finally gives the 49ers the ability to rest their top players and still generate a solid pass rush or good run blocking. It will also allow the 49ers to send in different units for different situations (i.e. goal line, passing downs, running downs, etc).
Defensive coordinator Jim Mora Jr and Dwaine Board worked extensively with the defensive line this off-season to help hone their pass rushing techniques. All though pre-season hasnít really proved that a new pass rush has been born, the 49ers are more confident in this area than they have been in years. After last yearís brutal showing, there is no where to go but up, and should the 49ers present a real pass rush, their defense may take a big jump up the league rankings this year.