Add another former San Francisco 49ers player to the list of players that have joined the teams of Kyle Shanahan’s former coordinators.
It’s been a running theme since Robert Saleh left San Francisco to become the head coach of the New York Jets before the 2021 NFL season. Coupled with Mike McDaniel departing to lead the Miami Dolphins, there have been two avenues for current and former Niners to link up with.
The latest to join Saleh? Solomon Thomas. According to New York Post reporter Brian Costello, the 26-year-old defensive end is putting on the New York green.
“The Jets are signing DE Solomon Thomas, according to a source,” Costello Tweeted. “Thomas was a 2017 first-round pick of the 49ers and played for Robert Saleh from 2017-20. He was with the Raiders last year.”
Since coming into the NFL as the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, Thomas hasn’t produced at the level many expect of a high draft selection. However, he gets a fresh start in New York after putting together his best season yet for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021.
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Former 49ers DE Looking for Breakout Season
While his 2021 season was his best yet in terms of production, it could hardly be considered a breakout year for Thomas. Firstly, he didn’t start a single game with the Raiders, but did appear in all 17 regular season games.
Thomas earned 3.5 sacks in 2021, which was .5 more than his previous best, which came as a rookie in San Francisco in 2017. He also edged out his quarterback hits stat according to Pro Football Reference, getting to opposing QBs 12 times. Further, Thomas registered his first two forced fumbles of his NFL career with the Raiders.
Most NFL fans can tell those aren’t impressive numbers. But in terms of a backup rusher, his production with Las Vegas was fairly solid.
That isn’t going to make the 49ers’ front office or the team’s fans feel better about his meager six sacks in four years with San Francisco, but it’s at the very least a turn in the right direction for the former Stanford Cardinal star. Now, reuniting with Saleh after an uptick of production could bode well for the Jets and the player.
Four Former Niners with Saleh
As mentioned, Thomas isn’t the only player to join Saleh or McDaniel. Thomas’ arrival marks the fourth ex-San Francisco player to head to New York under Saleh’s tenure.
In 2021, running back Tevin Coleman joined the Jets after two years with the 49ers. This offseason, former 49ers corner D.J. Reed signed with New York after two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, who he landed with after the Niners’ 2020 season.
Finally, the Jets elected to give offensive guard Laken Tomlinson a big contract to lure him away from the Bay Area. After missing just one start in five seasons, Tomlinson tested free agency and New York answered, handing him a three-year, $40 million contract per Spotrac.
It’s feasible to think that all four of the former Niners will make the final roster. However, Thomas feels like he has the most to prove and the only name with a genuine chance to miss the final 53-man lineup.