For those who feel Solomon Thomas should be making a bigger impact to start the season, DeForest Buckner has a gentle reminder: His first sack as a rookie didn’t come until Week 6.
He had two in that game and finished the season with six, which tied for the team lead with Ahmad Brooks.
“It took me a while,” Buckner said Thursday. “And that’s what I told (Thomas) since the start of the season. I told him, don’t get frustrated by it, to continue to learn from it. I told him, ‘I was in the same exact position as you last year. And I didn’t get a sack until the first half of the season. And the last half – they came in bunches.’ ”
Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, has no sacks and seven tackles through the first three games. But he’s about to see his playing time, and his opportunities, increase.
For one, Tank Carradine must sit out at least the next eight games after being placed on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain. Thomas likely will fill in at Carradine’s so-called ‘big end’ spot on the defensive line.
Second, the 49ers are about to face Arizona and Indianapolis, which have given up 11 sacks each, tied for the fourth most in the NFL. Arizona also has attempted 132 passes, second most in the league, which will give Thomas more pass-rushing chances whether it’s at defensive end, or on third-and-long situations at defensive tackle.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said Thursday he thought Thomas “could be a good edge rusher.” But he said he felt the rookie is going to be a “premier inside rusher when it’s all said and done.”
“So we do need to find ways to get him inside to rush the passer a little bit more,” Saleh said.
Buckner said he’s not worried about the rookie.
“He’s a sponge,” he said. “He’s always soaking all the knowledge in and wants to know everything. And it’s going to take him a long way in this league. I’m excited for him. I know there’s more to come, obviously, throughout the season.”
Buckner, who also has no sacks in three games, said he and his defensive-line mates intently watched the Cardinals’ prime-time game on Monday, one in which the Dallas Cowboys offense sacked quarterback Carson Palmer six times.
“The whole defensive line, we start licking our chops when we’ve got a more stationary quarterback,” he said.
Injuries – Defensive end Pita Taumoepenu was added to the team’s injury report with a sprained ankle. He, linebacker Reuben Foster (ankle) and safety Eric Reid (knee) did not practice.
Linebacker Brock Coyle (concussion), running back Carlos Hyde (hip), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (concussion) and safety Jaquiski Tartt (concussion) were limited in practice.