San Francisco 49ers’ defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was recently called a possible sleeper.
Thomas was viewed as one of the most talented players in the 2017 NFL Draft and it wasn’t a surprise to see the 49ers take him with the No. 3 overall pick after trading back one selection.
But we just haven’t seen that talent shine through so far.
An uneventful rookie season saw him total just three sacks in 14 games, but he flashed enough to give promise for a brighter future. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Thomas’ sister passed away in January of 2018.
And he would play the following season with a heavy heart. It clearly affected his on-field play as Thomas would regress to just one sack and six total QB hits while playing all 16 games.
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The 49ers changed Solomon Thomas’ role last season, but it didn’t really matter.
The 49ers decided to shift Thomas to more of an interior role in 2019, but by that point, he had been passed on the depth chart by more productive players. The former Stanford star started just three games in 2019 while playing just 41 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.
And this past May, the 49ers decided to decline Thomas’ fifth-year option in an unsurprising move. Now an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season, Thomas’ future in San Francisco appears to be nearing its end.
Most are expecting first-round pick Javon Kinlaw to be the player who takes over for Buckner in the biggest way. The two share similar strengths and Kinlaw is a perfect fit for Buckner’s 3-technique role.
But don’t count out D.J. Jones who flashed last season from making an impact in 2020. Thomas will have plenty of competition for snaps as he looks to make one final impression.
Thomas once showed superstar potential in college and he has all the physical traits needed to reach that level in the NFL. But for one reason or another, he’s never been able to put it all together with the 49ers.
The 24-year-old will have one last chance to prove to the 49ers that he’s worth a second contract. And at least one NFL analyst appears to be on his side.