— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) January 4, 2017
Former Cardinal defensive end Solomon Thomas was picked third by the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night in the NFL Draft. Thomas became the 23rd first-round pick to come from the Cardinal ranks. The defensive lineman will join a former teammate, offensive guard Joshua Garnett, in the City by the Bay.
The 49ers chose third, trading draft slots with the Chicago Bears. The Bears drafted quarterback Mitchell Trubisky as the No. 2 overall pick, leaving Thomas open for the 49ers.
Thomas is yet another piece in the 49ers’ defensive arsenal, which includes two other Pac-12 defensive linemen in former Oregon Ducks Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.
Solomon is considered to be an impact player with an explosiveness that will serve him well on the 49ers defensive front seven. He has great lateral range, and his slightly undersized 270-pound frame doesn’t seem to impede quick movements that get the job done. The NFL website states that Thomas has a “ravenous approach to the game,” a quality that a player like him wants to hear and a team like the 49ers wants to gain.
— NFL (@NFL) April 28, 2017
The 49ers hope that Thomas will be able to come in and make an immediate impact, shoring up a rush defense that allowed a league-worst 4.8 yards per attempt. Thomas has great instincts against the run, using brute force and deft hands to easily shed blockers, and will be able to make plays all over the line.
The 49ers have played a 3-4 defense under previous defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, but new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will likely bring a 4-3 scheme to the Bay. Thomas’ versatility will allow him to play defensive end on most downs but also move to the interior of the line in obvious passing situations. Thomas was a force against opposing quarterbacks last year, finishing the season with eight sacks.
His relentless assault on opposing teams led to him being awarded the Morris Trophy, an award given to the Pac-12’s most outstanding defensive lineman, as voted on by the offensive linemen in the conference.
So Thomas, or “Solly,” as he is often called, will stay in the Bay for a while longer as he heads into the professional world of football.
Contact Eric Gilliam at egillia3 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Charles Vidrine at cvidrine ‘at’ stanford.edu.