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Matt Maiocco breaks down massive potential of Clelin Ferrell, Drake Jackson to elevate 49ers defense



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After a promising start in 2022, Drake Jackson was benched for the final four games of the season. He finished the year with three sacks. He had three sacks alone on Sunday.

Jackson was placed in a pass rushing role on third downs, which was allowed by Clelin Ferrell primarily playing on first and second down.

Matt Maiocco thinks the pairing is unique, and could finally be set to take overdue advantage of the impact of Nick Bosa and the interior of the defensive line.

He sees Jackson as the best option the 49ers have had, probably since the one functional season of Dee Ford in 2019.

“I think he’s better than the guys they’ve had in the past,” Maiocco said. “Samson Ebukam, they got him a few years back to be that guy and he never really took off. I mean, he was always right around that five-sack mark.

“And here in year two, Drake Jackson played 15 games last season and he got three sacks the entire season. And here he was, he got three sacks in his first 15 snaps this year. So that’s the one thing that I think the 49ers have not been able to find the guy to take advantage of all the benefits that the edge rusher on the other side of Nick Bosa should reap.”

It has been a little baffling in recent years to watch the defensive end opposite Bosa fail to take advantage of his impact.

Having added Javon Hargrave alongside a healthy Arik Armstead, it should offer heaps of opportunities for Jackson.

But it’s not just Jackson. Clelin Ferrell is the other part of the equation. Maiocco thinks his impact is also substantial, likening it to Aldon Smith’s rookie year.

I think this is the best situation they’ve had where they can kind of use — this goes back to Aldon Smith’s first year. Aldon Smith wasn’t a starter year one. I forget who the base defensive end was then. But Aldon Smith was just, go rush the passer. Get out there in nickel situations, third down, and you don’t have to worry about any run responsibilities or anything else. Just go get the quarterback and that’s your sole focus.

And so that’s what the 49ers kind of unveiled yesterday was Clelin Ferrell was the base down defensive end and then Drake Jackson comes in to rush the passer and I thought that the combination of those two guys was really good and maybe for once we can see somebody on the other side take advantage of having Nick Bosa also on the team.

Ferrell logged 31 snaps on Sunday while Jackson took 28. Nick Bosa had 35, playing on a bit of a pitch count in his return to the field.

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