Solomon Thomas to 49ers: Twitter Reacts as DE Is Selected in 2017 NFL Draft

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 28, 2017

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  Solomon Thomas #90 of the Stanford Cardinal plays defense in an NCAA football game against the Rice Owls played on November 26, 2016 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
David Madison/Getty Images

After trading down one spot, the San Francisco 49ers selected Solomon Thomas with the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. 

San Francisco 49ers @49ers

With the 3rd pick in the #NFLDraft, the 49ers select @SollyThomas90! Welcome to the family! #49ersDraft https://t.co/avH2vMymdJ

With San Francisco's new regime of head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch looking to build an identity, Thomas is the first key piece of that process. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Bay Area defense shaping up! 49ers take Stanford DE Solomon Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick. https://t.co/dLrJnyQ2ux

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

Solomon Thomas is the call. The #49ers get the guy at 3, they would’ve taken at No. 2 and pick up two 3rd-round picks and a 4th-rounder.

Molly Knight @molly_knight

My dude @SollyThomas90 is the best Stanford defender I have ever seen and he also uses Beyoncé as his walk-up music. What else is there

NFL Network @nflnetwork

With the 3rd overall pick.. @49ers select @SollyThomas90! First non-QB from Stanford taken in the top 5 in the common draft era https://t.co/h00H9fRIs8

Ian Wharton @NFLFilmStudy

That 49ers defensive line is going to be really fun as they develop. I believe Solomon Thomas has Ziggy Ansah-type talent.

Brian Murphy @knbrmurph

Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas ... Pac-12 D-linemen haven't been known as beasts traditionally, but #49ers hope so.

Thomas' decision to leave the Stanford Cardinal after his junior season and jump to the NFL was a case of striking while the iron is hot. His numbers from 2016 aren't overly impressive. He had 8.5 sacks and 15.0 tackles for loss, up from 3.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss the year before.

Thomas left a lasting image in his final college game, though. He wreaked havoc on the North Carolina Tar Heels offensive line as the Cardinal won the Sun Bowl 25-23. His one sack and two tackles for loss don't tell the story of how dominant Thomas was throughout the victory.

Thomas was the first to get to Mitchell Trubisky—the No. 2 overall selection by the Chicago Bears—as the Tar Heels attempted a game-tying two-point conversion, courtesy of Stanford football's official Twitter account:

Stanford Football @StanfordFball

.@SollyThomas90's final play at Stanford was 🔥🔥🔥. #PartyInTheBackfield #GoStanford #BeatUNC https://t.co/wCtehPv3yt

There is a question as to where Thomas' future lies in the pros.

He ran a 4.69-second 40-yard dash and 4.28 20-yard shuttle at the NFL Scouting Combine, so he has the speed to play on the edge. Most of his time at Stanford was spent on the interior of the line, though, and at 6'3" and 273 pounds, he'd be slightly undersized to play at defensive tackle.

Leaving that issue aside, Thomas is an extremely skilled defensive lineman. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller raved about his hands:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Solomon Thomas uses his hands really well. Like his ability best as a 43DE.

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

Solomon Thomas has a better punch than any OT I've seen in this draft. And he plays DL

The Stanford star is arguably the second-best pass-rusher in the 2017 class behind Myles Garrett, and he's a more capable run defender than the Texas A&M defensive end.

Thomas' work could go unappreciated at times by fans since he may not collect a high volume of sacks—similar to Michael Bennett and Calais Campbell, who have combined for one double-digit-sack campaign in 17 NFL seasons.

Bennett and Campbell also have two Pro Bowls apiece to their name, and they're the eighth- and fifth-highest-paid defensive ends by average salary, per Spotrac.

The 49ers are in such a state that almost any rookie would represent an upgrade to their roster. Bolstering the defensive line wasn't San Francisco's biggest need going into the draft, but it makes sense.

When the 49ers were successful under former head coach Jim Harbaugh, they had one of the league's best defenses. Thomas' arrival signals a potential return to those days. He and DeForest Buckner should form a strong combination along the defensive line.

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