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Who Is 49ers Next Jim Tomsula-coached Prospect to Emerge?

Posted Jul 18, 2014

Our training camp positional previews continue with a look at the team’s underrated defensive linemen.

Our training camp positional previews continue with a look at the team’s defensive linemen.


- It seems like every year another San Francisco's 49ers defensive lineman has a breakout year. Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Ian Williams, Demarcus Dobbs, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Glenn Dorsey are some of the recent examples of players who have raised their level of play from the technical wisdom shared by defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Who is the next player to emerge from the group? Could it be second-year players, Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial?

- Smith, better known by his teammates as “Cowboy,” was not on the field for offseason practices. He worked out with the team’s strength and conditioning staff. Smith was “working through something,” according to Jim Harbaugh. The 49ers, however, expect Smith to be ready for camp. There, he won’t have to be on the field so much. The 14-year veteran knows what he needs to do in camp. Younger teammates are the ones who can benefit from the extra snaps.

- Lawrence Okoye is still the most intriguing player in the group. Sure, San Francisco has quietly assembled its deepest group of defensive linemen in years, but the former British Olympian still has some mystery about him. We saw Okoye briefly in the 2013 preseason before a knee sprain put him on the shelf. But what improvements can we see from the athletic specimen? Will the 6-foot-6, 304-pound defensive lineman be able to run down kick returners with consistency as he was in offseason workouts? Training camp kick-off return sessions just became that much more entertaining.



Talk about a Tomsula impact. Look no further than the former Kansas City Chiefs fifth overall NFL Draft pick in 2008. In his first season with the 49ers, Dorsey took over for Williams as the team’s starting nose tackle and held on to the job for the rest of the year, through the playoffs. 

Dorsey tied his career high of two sacks and added 41 tackles in 13 starts. Williams is on the mend and looking to compete with Dorsey again at nose tackle. The two had a stellar training camp battle in ’13, with Williams being the victor by a slight margin. The competition won’t be as big of a deal this time around. Both big men can play, and they’ll allow the 49ers to keep defensive linemen fresh throughout gameday.


Jerod-Eddie really came on strong last season. He totaled 28 tackles, broke up two passes, recovered a fumble and had an interception. The former undrafted rookie is in the mix to spell Smith and McDonald on base downs… Carradine has a lot of fanfare heading into camp. People want to see the 2013 second-round draft pick in action after he didn’t play in a game last year as he was recovering from a torn ACL in college. Carradine has looked solid in offseason workouts and by all accounts, he could be a mismatch for interior linemen when preseason games begin… Likewise, Dial is a player with a lot to prove. He saw action in three games as a rookie and made one tackle. Dial has been soaking up knowledge from his veteran teammates and will be able to soon showcase his Smith-inspired pass-rushing move when the defensive linemen rush against the team’s offensive line.



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