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Cassius Marsh Lays Out Plan to Improve 49ers Pass Rush
February 13, 2018 12:01 AM | Joe Fann

You don't need to be reminded that the San Francisco 49ers are in need of improvement in the pass rush department. The 49ers defense accumulated just 30 sacks in 2017 which ranked 26th across the league.

It's not just a one-year drought either. San Francisco hasn't ranked in the top half of the league in sacks since 2012. In addition, the team hasn't had a player produce a double digit sack season since Aldon Smith's All-Pro campaign that same year.

Elvis Dumervil led the 49ers in sacks last season with 6.5. DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas were up next with three. Four 49ers defenders had two sacks. So how can things improve in 2018? The obvious answer - and option that John Lynch will undoubtedly explore - is to add talent to the roster.

But Cassius Marsh offered a more simple solution that can lead to increased production next season. Marsh, who posted two sacks for San Francisco in six games in 2017, was just re-signed to a two-year deal. He noted that continuity is often the most common catalyst for sustained success. All of San Francisco's top pass rushers are under contract in 2018.

"With more time working together, I think guys will learn how to rush together," Marsh said last week on the 49ers Studios Podcast. "When I got here, DeFo was having a good year and Elvis was having a good year. Some guys were doing their thing, but (it's important to learn) how to rush together - learning how to run games together, learning how your teammate rushes."

Buckner and Thomas are the two names who will hopefully make the biggest leap in 2018. The pair of top 10 picks have shown flashes of their potential. It's up to Marsh and Dumervil as the veterans of the pass-rushing core to get everyone working in sync.

"What's the best way to rush with Solly? What's the best way to rush with DeFo? What is Elvis best at? What am I best at? How can we use each other's skills to crush the pocket and make plays, get QB hits and get sacks? I think when you get a consistent group out there and you've got great talent mixed with great hard work and team camaraderie - pass rushing is all about rushing together. All of the great defensive lines, they rush together.

"I think that's something that we're going to work on, and I think that's something we improved on while I was there. I think we've got a lot of great potential to rush the passer."

This isn't to say that Lynch and Co. are going to stand pat at the position. San Francisco is still likely to explore all potential fits whether it be in free agency, a trade or the 2018 NFL Draft. Trent Murphy, Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah are a few notable names who could potentially hit the open market on March 14. Bradley Chubb, Tremaine Edmunds, Marcus Davenport, Sam Hubbard and Uchenna Nwosu are some of the top pass rushers in this year's draft.

The NFL offseason is only just beginning and with more than $74 million in cap space, San Francisco still has plenty of options at its disposal.

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