49ers unsurprisingly decline Solomon Thomas’ fifth-year option

49ers, Solomon Thomas (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
49ers, Solomon Thomas (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers have reportedly made the unsurprising decision to decline the fifth-year option of defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

San Francisco 49ers‘ head honchos John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan had a pretty up-and-down first draft with the organization back in 2017. And much of the reason for that was their first-round pick of Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas.

While the fifth-round selection of tight end George Kittle proved to be perhaps the steal of the entire draft and the late-round picks of D.J. Jones and Trent Taylor provided some value, the 49ers’ first-round pick proved to be a complete flop.

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In three seasons in the NFL, Thomas has never been able to carve out a true feature role on the 49ers defense. Originally drafted as an edge rusher, the Stanford product struggled in his rookie season accumulating just three sacks and falling short of expectations.

But there was hope for his second season as the athletically-gifted, but raw Thomas had a full year under his belt now. However, tragedy struck when his sister, Ella Thomas, passed away in January of 2018.

He’s opened up about his difficulties coping with the tragic loss and the pain of dealing with that is unimaginable to most. Unfortunately, it resonated with his production on the field.

A move inside to a more 3-technique role at defensive tackle didn’t really help much as Thomas was never able to string together a consistent stretch of above-average play.

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And now, in anticipation of his future departure, the 49ers have reportedly declined his fifth-year option.

Thomas has seen late-round picks like Ronald Blair, Jullian Taylor, and the aforementioned D.J. Jones take snaps away from him and even surpass him on the depth chart in the past year or so. With that in mind, this certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The 24-year-old was set to make $13.14 million in his fifth NFL season if he had his option picked up. Instead, he will now become a free agent in 2021 unless the two sides agree to an extension.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily signal the end of Thomas’ run with the 49ers. He will still have the entire 2020 season to prove his worth and convince the team that he’s worth a second contract.

After all, no one expected Arik Armstead to have the season he did last year after his first four NFL campaigns. That said, the writing does appear to be on the wall.

The 49ers replaced DeForest Buckner with first-round pick Javon Kinlaw and the presence of all of the aforementioned players leaves little room for Thomas to make an impact this season, barring injury.

Solomon Thomas just hasn’t been able to put it together. He has all the athletic traits to be an All-Pro in the NFL and his work ethic has never been called to question. But for one reason or another, it just hasn’t worked.

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And now, he’ll likely be playing his last season with the 49ers in 2020.