Never underestimate the 49ers’ desire to bolster their defensive line. A handful of free agency moves that saw the club add a pair of defensive ends and a pair of defensive tackles might have pushed the defensive front down their perceived list of needs, but San Francisco’s front office isn’t above continuing to add there.

A recent report from draft analyst Tony Pauline indicated the 49ers would be out on Western Michigan pass rusher Marshawn Kneeland because the club signed Leonard Floyd and Yetur Gross-Matos in free agency.

We’re going to go ahead and rebut the argument (from Pauline or anyone else) that the 49ers can be crossed off the list of teams that might be interested in Kneeland in the second round (or possibly late in the first round) of this year’s draft, because the 49ers can never have enough pass rush help.

When the club was in pursuit of then-Bears pass rusher Khalil Mack, general manager John Lynch said pass rush was as important to a defense as the quarterback is to an offense. The team has continued prioritizing their pass rush throughout Lynch’s tenure with head coach Kyle Shanahan. They drafted Nick Bosa No. 2 overall in 2019. They traded for DE Dee Ford that same offseason. In 2022 they used a second-round pick on USC DE Drake Jackson. Last year they spent a fifth-round choice on Georgia DE Robert Beal. All the while they’ve added low-risk, high-reward free agents at those spots as well.

Floyd and Gross-Matos should help a 49ers pass rush that sorely lacked in production last year, but history tells us a couple of veteran free agent additions won’t stop San Francisco from adding more depth, particularly if they believe that player can be a starter over the long-term. A player like Kneeland (or pick your favorite DE in this year’s class) wouldn’t have much competition for snaps right away since Gross-Matos figures to play inside some of the time and neither Jackson nor Beal are proven commodities at the NFL level.

It’s entirely conceivable the 49ers view DE as one of their top needs for this year and in the future. They might even use a first-round pick there depending on how the board shakes out. Of course, there are other positions San Francisco could spend its first couple selection on, but the defensive line is always a spot they’ll look to improve and ruling them out of the sweepstakes for one of the draft’s top edge rushers isn’t something we’re willing to do.

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