Promising 49ers DE Warned About Being Released Before 2024 Season

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Drake Jackson

Getty San Francisco 49ers defensive end Drake Jackson

The San Francisco 49ers have one of the NFL’s most talented defenses, but that means the competition for roster spots is brutal. And for defensive end and former second-round pick Drake Jackson, he may be running out of chances.

On May 15,’s Grant Cohn addressed Jackson’s situation before the 2024 season. With a crowded group on the defensive line, Jackson isn’t just trying to prove he deserves snaps, he’s trying to make his case for being on the team.

“After eight games [in 2023,] the 49ers shut down Jackson and never activated him again. They shut him down. Instead, they traded for Randy Gregory and Chase Young and simply forgot about Jackson… Jackson will have to beat out last year’s fifth-round pick Robert Beal Jr. to make the team. And to beat out Beal, Jackson will have to show he has gotten much stronger than he was the past two seasons,” Cohn wrote.

It’s not easy to make an NFL roster in the first place, but the 49ers are a different story. Boasting one of the NFL’s most talented defenses only ups the pressure, and Jackson just hasn’t lived up to his draft billing.

Jackson Struggles to Get on Field in 2023

Coming out of USC in the 2022 NFL draft, Jackson’s draft appeal was based around what he could do rather than what he’d already accomplished. Over 28 games with the Trojans, he had only totaled 12.5 sacks according to Sports Reference.

But his 6’4, 270-pound frame and quickness appealed to NFL scouts all the same. So it was not surprise that the 49ers took him late in the second round, with some analysts even saying San Francisco got a steal in the draft.

As a rotation option behind Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam, Jackson had to take what he could get in 2022. The 23-year-old earned 3 sacks, but never impressed enough to warrant a bigger role.

But after 3 sacks in the 49ers’ 2023 opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, it looked like Jackson had arrived. San Francisco looked to utilize him as a third-down player to line up opposite of Bosa, and it paid immediate dividends.

The problem is that the production stopped there. Over the next 7 games, Jackson did not earn a single sack. After that stretch, the DE was placed on the injured reserve with an undisclosed issue and did not see the field for the rest of the year.

49ers Bring In Leonard Floyd

One of the biggest moments of the 49ers’ current offseason has been the signing of Leonard Floyd. After the second 10-sack season of his career, Floyd was handed a two-year deal by San Francisco in an attempt to reload on the defensive line.

Floyd is entering his 9th season in the league and has only gotten better with age. After 18.5 sacks in his first four seasons with the Chicago Bears, Floyd has totaled at least 9 sacks in each season since.

His stint with the Buffalo Bills in 2023 was a roaring success, as he was purely used a pass rusher. Besides his 10.5 sacks, Floyd hit opposing QBs 19 times. The 49ers will be looking for a similar output as he approaches his 32nd birthday.

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