While Mitch Trubisky has often been the target of criticism in his first two seasons as a pro, it’s the other top-tier prospect involved in the draft-day deal between the Bears and 49ers in 2017 is the one who appears to be on a short leash.
Solomon Thomas makes a list of players who are entering the 2019 season facing a make-or-break year. ESPN Dan Graziano offers up a handful of big-name players in a piece detailing which players are on the hot seat and could be on the possible chopping block sooner rather than later if they don’t pick up their play this season. Thomas, if you’ll recall, was the centerpiece from San Francisco’s side of the deal that allowed Chicago to move up one spot to draft Trubisky.
Thomas has not produced the type of pass-rush productivity one would expect from a top-5 prospect. He has just four sacks, 13 tackles-for-loss, and 17 quarterback hits over 30 games in two seasons. From an analytical perspective, Pro Football Focus’ grades haven’t been too friendly either. Thomas picked up a 64.0 overall grade last season, which ranked him 63rd among the 103 edge defenders who qualified for the site’s leaderboard in 2018. It’s an improvement over the 55 grade he earned as a rookie, but still not what the 49ers were hoping for from their 2017 first-round pick.
There was a time when the deal was viewed as a fleece job by the 49ers. But as things have played out, the players chosen by San Francisco in that draft have mostly not panned out. And while that happens from time to time in big-time trades, the performance of the top-pick can help soften the blow — but Thomas hasn’t even done that. Thomas’ struggles have led Graziano to the conclusion that 2019 might be his last year with the 49ers if a major breakout doesn’t occur.
Thomas is still young and could have some untapped potential. But with the 49ers drafting Nick Bosa and trading for Dee Ford, the opportunities for Thomas to breakout are drying up. Actions speak louder than words. So while we’re no longer hearing about Chicago being fleeced, San Francisco making moves that push Thomas down the depth chart says everything we need to know about that situation as it currently stands.