The San Francisco 49ers closed out the 2017 NFL draft the same way they started it, by focusing on defense. After a flurry of trades in the preceding rounds, general manager John Lynch took two defensive lineman in the 6th round: D.J. Jones and Pita Taumoepenu.
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The 49ers selected D.J. Jones, defensive tackle from Mississipi, with their first 6th round selection at pick number 198 overall. D.J. is 6’1” and 319 pounds and transferred to Mississippi from East Mississippi Junior College after winning back to back national championships at the latter. Jones played predominately at the nose guard spot and will cover the center or guard for the 49ers defense. Jones serves as an anchor on the defensive line whose main goal is to occupy blockers so the linebackers can run free. D.J. will play on first and second downs only and will be subbed out for a faster pass rusher type on third down.
Only four picks later the 49ers drafted another defensive line player in Pita Taumoepenu, a defensive end out of Utah. Pita is also 6’1” but only 243 pounds. Pita lived in Tonga for a while playing rugby before finding his way to Utah. With Pita being so new to football he will be a project with a high ceiling, but because he is undersized as an edge player he may stick to special teams contribution for a while. When Pita lines up on the edge he goes all out with effort and speed. If Pita gets to the quarterback it usually due to effort after getting stuffed by the offensive lineman. Pita will be a situational pass rusher at best and a quality special teams player at worst.
Based on the 49ers 2017 draft, John Lynch appears to believe that defense can help win championships as his selections reflect a desire to build a bully on the defensive side of the ball.