On Thursday, Jaguars rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 overall pick, made an impressive exhibition debut and declared this NFL stuff was a cinch.

“I think, to me, it was really easy,” Fournette told reporters.

On Friday, 49ers rookie defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick, made an impressive exhibition debut and was given the chance to channel his inner Leonard: Was the NFL easy?

“No, no,” Thomas said. “I have a lot of things to work on; I have lot of things to get better at. When it’s easy, I’ll be a great player. But I’m not there yet. I have a lot of work to do.”

Thomas, the relentless pass-rusher from Stanford who is relentlessly polite off the field, did some work Friday.

In a 27-17 preseason win over Kansas City, Thomas set the tone with a quarterback pressure that led to an interception on his first snap. He finished with two hurries, two tackles and a QB hit in 28 snaps while showcasing his speed and versatility on rushes from the interior and outside.

Offensive-minded head coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t as focused on the defense, but he acknowledged he noticed Thomas.

“The little that I did see of the defense,” Shanahan said, “I was impressed with him.”

Thomas sounded less taken with himself when asked about the specifics of his performance.

Midway through the first quarter, on his first snap, Thomas shoved starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif backward and pressured quarterback Tyler Bray, who floated a short pass that was intercepted by cornerback Rashard Robinson.

Thomas’ assessment: He got lucky that Bray basically ran into him after his teammates collapsed the pocket.

“I was just balancing the rush out and the quarterback fled to me,” Thomas said. “Everyone else had a good rush so, actually, it was an easy job because he came back to me.”

Thomas later got right guard Bryan Witzmann off balance with a bull-rush and sped past him to pressure Bray, whose hurried throw was batted down by linebacker Aaron Lynch.

Thomas’ assessment: Could have been better.

“I’ve got to finish that next time and get the sack,” Thomas said.

If Friday was any indication, Thomas will have plenty of chances to get his first sack in the preseason: His 28 snaps were tied for the second-most on the 49ers defense.

Shanahan said the 49ers didn’t plan to play Thomas that much, but a groin injury to defensive tackle Ronald Blair factored into his playing time. Thomas had his neck and shoulder area examined on the sideline early in the fourth quarter, but returned to finish the game and later said he was “all good” when asked about the apparent injury.

Thomas said he needed the extra work Friday, noting he missed the offseason program because of Stanford’s semester schedule.

“I need the reps,” he said. “I need to get better. There are certain things I need to work on to get more comfortable. I missed a lot of time during OTAs, so it’s good for me get these reps and get all the mental issues out of the way. And just go out there and play, not think.”

Thomas’ late start helps explain why he remains behind Tank Carradine on the depth chart, but he appears to be on track to open the season as a starter.

After all, teams expect first-round picks, particularly those selected in the top five, to make significant impacts as rookies.

In Jacksonville, Fournette certainly plans to do just that after the much-discussed speed of the NFL game didn’t impress him in his first game against the Patriots.

“It’s a lot slower than I really thought,” Fournette said.

And what thought did Thomas offer when asked what surprised him Friday? You shouldn’t be surprised.

“Just the speed at the beginning,” Thomas said, “I had to get used to it.”

Eric Branch is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: EBranch@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Eric_Branch

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