Three Reasons Why 49ers Should Avoid Drafting Defensive Line With 15th Pick

When looking at the San Francisco 49ers roster one would think that the team has glaring holes along the defensive line. A team that is on the verge of losing both of their 2014 defensive-end starters as DE Ray McDonald was cut while DE Justin Smith ponders retirement, many NFL pundits are weighing in their two cents on why a defensive end should be considered with the team’s first-round pick. However, I strongly disagree with that assessment.

The 49ers have depth all the way around at the position. From veterans DE Darnell Dockett and NT Glenn Dorsey to promising talents like DE Tank Carradine and DE Quinton Dial, there is no question the team is stacked down in the trenches. Not to mention, the team also has NT Ian Williams as well, it looks to me that no defensive lineman projected to be available around the 15th pick would be worth their investment.

Many analysts are mocking Oregon’s DE Arik Armstead to the 49ers. And while he may be the best player available when the team is on the clock, I wonder how much of a real impact he would have on the team considering they will likely give starter snaps to either Carradine or Dial.


Secondly, Carradine is a far better pass-rusher than Armstead while Dial is a stronger player at the point of attack. This does not bode well for Armstead as he wouldn’t even be able to see time in the team’s sub-packages. And with Dockett likely holding down one spot — adding Armstead to an already stable unit doesn’t seem to make much sense as playing time would come at a premium.

[Related: Three Reasons Why 49ers Should Draft a WR In First-Round]

I’m not saying that Armstead won’t be a good player in the NFL, he certainly has the H-W-S to do so. But for the 49ers sake and what they need to accomplish with the 15th pick, I believe they should go in another direction.

The 49ers need a starting caliber wide-receiver to pair with WR Torrey Smith as it remains to be seen if WR Anquan Boldin will return to the 49ers for a fourth season. If Boldin doesn’t return — wide-receiver would once again become a top priority in 2016. Accounting for this scenario, the 49ers would be wise to select his heir apparent with their first-round pick.


A draft class that is top-heavy with wide-receiver talent adding a player like WR DeVante Parker, WR Amari Cooper, or WR Dorial Green-Beckham may prove to be the right move.

If both Parker and Cooper are off the board, the 49ers could opt to trade down, pick up an additional pick and then target DGB. A scenario that would make sense if the right deal presented itself, do not count out 49ers GM Trent Baalke going that route as he has proven to be a wheeler-and-dealer on draft day.

With the 49ers continuing to sign veteran free-agents to add leadership and experience, it would be interesting to see what the 49ers do with their first-round pick as they have plenty of options.

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.