Sakamoto: 49ers DC Jim O’Neil Impressed With OLB Marcus Rush Film-Study Before Broncos Game

SBy John Leyba/The Denver Post)

John Leyba/The Denver Post)

If you’re trying to make an NFL roster, it’s best to do everything in your power to impress the team’s coaching staff. Whether that’s putting in extra time in the weight room or being deemed a ‘coachable’ player, it’s the little things that will eventually add up in the end, when the team makes it’s final roster cuts – and San Francisco 49ers OLB Marcus Rush is no exception.

The Michigan State product just put the 49ers coaching staff on notice, as his team-high 3.0 sack performance against the Denver Broncos was nothing short of impressive.

“I see him as a complete outside ‘backer [Outside Linebacker],” O’Neil said. “He can rush the quarterback. He can set edges in the run-game [run support], and he’s very good in pass-coverage.”

Coach O’Neil went on to give us a little behind the scenes insight on a story that may have played a role in Rush’s on-field success.

“The thing I like about Marcus [Rush], is the day of that game [Broncos], one of my pre-game rituals is I will take a personnel guy [Tem Lukabu] and when I went down to the film-room to call that game, Marcus was down there studying tape for about an hour an hour-and-a-half. It’s just good to see a guy put in the extra work and reap the rewards with a three sack performance.”

At 6-3, 251, Rush is quickly solidifying himself as a fan favorite. I can just tell by all the twitter mentions I’ve been receiving. And while the Broncos game is a small sample-size for the coaching staff to evaluate, it’s nonetheless intriguing as O’Neil said, “You can’t ignore production [Rush].” 

But what is the likelihood that Rush makes the 53-man roster? Well considering the team has OLB Aaron Lynch, OLB Ahmad Brooks, OLB Eli Harold and OLB Tank Carradine as sure-fire locks, it remains to be seen if the team keeps five outside linebackers.

Lynch, is suspended for the first four games of the season, so the addition of Rush may be more attractive in the short-term. Plus, Rush’s ability to be a dual-threat on special-teams is just another reason to keep the high-motor kid around. Yes, even in favor of 2013 third-round pick OLB Corey Lemonier.

However, this is a numbers game, and it remains to be seen if Kelly wants to invest in five outside ‘backers, as other positional groups will need to be addressed.

As the 49ers continue to fine-tune their 53-man roster, it will be intriguing to see if Rush makes the squad, as his pass-rush and special-teams versatility may be too good to pass up.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.