SFI draft preview: Defensive line

The 49ers need a pass rush. A pass rush usually begins at defensive end. So San Francisco spent the No. 7 overall pick in the draft last year on a defensive end, after spending a second-round pick on the position the year before.

 The Niners are considering doing it again on Saturday when the NFL Draft begins. When it ends late Sunday afternoon, San Francisco probably will have used at least one of its nine picks on a defensive lineman.

 Despite the progress shown by Andre Carter at right end and John Engelberger at left end last season - Carter led the team with 6.5 sacks and Engelberger was next with four - a formidable pass-rushing end remains a top priority for a team that ranked 27th in the NFL last season in sacks per play.

 Even after picking up free agent Sean Moran, who can play both end and tackle, the Niners still are looking for quality depth at tackle and a pass-rushing force in the middle opposite Bryant Young.

 "Part of our nickel and dime team that I think all of us are aware that needs upgrading is particularly our inside rush," Niners general manager Terry Donahue said. "But that's an area that, if we could upgrade and have a better pass rusher in that situation, that's an area we need to think about."

 Florida's Alex Brown is a possibility, and the Niners also are intrigued by Georgia's Charles Grant, a speedy playmaker with a relentless motor, and Alabama-Birmingham's Eddie Freeman, a nice combination of speed and power.


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