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Need you know more from Mr. Floyd?
6’3’’, 303 lbs, 5.03-second 40
Again, the defensive line is the most essential positional grouping for the 49ers.
As such, defensive tackle Justin Smith is the most important player on the entire field.
He seals the edge and eliminates multiple offensive linemen. This frees up the inside backers to stifle ball-carriers and for Aldon Smith to collect his sacks. He also simultaneously stuffs the run and generates quarterback pressures of his own.
Although, Justin Smith does more of the dirty work and isn’t the prototypical stat-producer. Yet, the 49ers don’t function properly without him.
They surrendered 86 points in 2.5 games with him off the field and an additional 89 with a less-than-100-percent J. Smith in three playoff contests. Comparatively, they gave up just 187 points in the first 13.5 games.
And without him, they are left with an unsigned Jean-Francois…and that’s it.
(We will omit Will Tukuafu, who’s primarily a fullback, and Tony Jerod-Eddie, a 2012 rookie free agent and practice-squad member.)
This is where Sharrif Floyd enters the picture.
The versatile Florida product played the zero-, one-, three- and five-technique in the Gators' 3-4 defense. That means he lined up directly over center, on the guard’s inside and outside shoulder, and over tackle.
Theoretically, then, Floyd could start at all positions on the 49ers’ defensive front.
San Francisco’s most significant need resides in the non-existent backup behind Justin Smith, however. Here comes Floyd to the rescue.
The 6’3’’, 303-pounder is best equipped for the five-technique as a 3-4 DE. He rates above-average in quickness, has a relentless motor and anchors consistently in run defense.
Floyd amassed 46 tackles, 13 for loss and 6.5 sacks at that position in 2012, earning first-team all-conference honors in the process.
CBS Sports pointed to his “thick lower-half conducive to anchoring as a two-gap defender and run-stuffing presence,” even being good for beating tackles when lined up out wide (h/t CBSSports.com).
ESPN scouts noted his rare skill set in having the “body of a DT but the mobility and strength of a DE." They also commented on his high-effort, coachable demeanor in spite of a rough upbringing.
Draft analysts at NFL.com, for their part, acknowledged these impressive strengths:
..can swim over his opponent or get his hands up into his man’s jersey to push him into the backfield. Often lined up outside the tackle…showed quickness to rush the passer and quick feet to contain on the edge. Combines good effort and short-area agility…to chase plays across the field and get his long arms around ball carriers when closing in…keeps his eyes in the backfield and sheds to either direction to grab running backs…Great balance and flexibility, and shows good change of direction ability…Excellent at shooting gaps and…split[ting] double-teams in pass protection...
Even with all those accolades, Floyd will require a developmental period to harness his collection of abilities, as he never consistently played any one position. His pure pass-rushing skills are also in question, notably against dual-threat quarterbacks.
The 49er Faithful certainly can take solace in the support system around Floyd.
He couldn’t be in a better position with the likes of Justin Smith, defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, coordinator Vic Fangio and no-nonsense head coach Jim Harbaugh teaching him.
Now, it’s time for the 49ers’ coaching staff to learn all it can from Floyd at the combine.
It must ensure that trading up for him with one (or more) of the team’s 14 draft picks will yield a top-tier backup for Smith and Ray McDonald. Teams need rotational depth in the trenches, regardless of the 49ers’ penchant for playing every down without substitution.
Floyd has a great chance of owning up to his potential.
San Francisco just needs the combine-issued gold seal of approval.
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