The 49ers haven’t exactly gotten their return on investment with former No. 3 overall draft pick Solomon Thomas.
But the team is hoping more playing time will help the 2017 first-round draft pick reach his potential.
The 49ers are going to need the defensive lineman to step up in 2020 to help fill the void left when they traded DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts.
“Solomon Thomas is a guy that we felt played well last year in a role,” general manager John Lynch said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “We think that role will expand.”
After starting 25 total games over his first two seasons, Thomas played in all 16 games last season but started just three of them. The 24-year-old has six total sacks in his first three seasons.
Thomas’ snap count went down from 62 percent and 60 percent those first two seasons to 41 percent in 2019, according to Pro Football Reference.
Thomas isn’t the only player Lynch and the 49ers are counting on.
“Obviously D.J. Jones is a guy that we’re extremely excited about,” Lynch said. “Unfortunately, had the high ankle sprain that sent him to IR and we weren’t able to make our playoff push and run with him, so we’re extremely excited. He’s working extremely hard about having him back.
“Kevin Givens and Jullian Taylor, Kentavius Street, all those guys had some form or fashion of injuries, but that’s kind of the group we’re working with. We looked at some things during free agency. Nothing really came to fruition. So, that’s the group there. We’ll see where that goes, but that’s who we’re working with at this point.”[RELATED: Lynch says Buckner trade was ‘toughest’ move]
The 49ers could add a defensive lineman to the mix during this week’s NFL draft, but considering they have bigger needs, the guys they have might be the group that shows up if/when training camp starts.
For Thomas, this might be the chance he needs to prove himself.