A positional look at the defense led by Bosa, Warner

Nick Bosa #97 runs a drill during San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

SANTA CLARA — Nick Bosa sharing quick tips with a new colleague has become an annual ritual. This week, Leonard Floyd is the one who had an interesting talk about technique with the 49ers’ fullback.

Or is this title more deserving of linebacker Fred Warner? If not them, then who?

The 49ers’ defense is undergoing a complete revamp with new defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen and new assistant coach Brandon Staley.

Contact drills won’t come for another couple of months, but the start of organized team activities this week offers a glimpse into how the 49ers’ defense will look, by position:

Leonard Floyd catches his breath during San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mundon/Bay Area News Group)
Leonard Floyd catches his breath during San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mundon/Bay Area News Group)

Defensive end

Bosa agreed to Kyle Shanahan’s suggestion and came to online travel agencies for the first time in what seemed like five years. Bosa looked his usual physical self, but there is a mature leader wearing the No. 97 shirt as well.

Playing the pass-rushing role ahead of him is Floyd, a ninth-year vet who looks lanky but agile and impactful. The bigger-bodied Yetur Gros-Matos looks like he could be a real steal after plunging into Carolina’s dungeon.

“Drake’s not healthy so he can’t go,” Shanahan said of Drake Jackson, who was undergoing rehab after needing knee surgery late last season.

Robert Bell Jr. is showing signs of making the jump from Year 1 to Year 2 which has certainly worked out well for the other fifth-round pick in 49ers history (see: Kittle, George). Not drafting a defensive end this year could be a bummer if depth erodes quickly.

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Yator Gross-Matos #94 and Nick Bosa #97 participate in drills during San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Yator Gross-Matos #94 and Nick Bosa #97 participate in drills during San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Defensive tackle

Projected starter Malik Collins is expected to join the OTAs next week, so Javon Hargrave lined up Tuesday alongside another newcomer, Jordan Elliott, whose 6-foot-4, 303-pound frame looks like a good fit. Kalia Davis’s courage is a positive sign after injuries delayed his entry into the NFL.

Kevin Givens and Ty McGill face tougher competition for roster spots this year. Shaquille Brown doesn’t stand out among established pros like he did in his rookie minicamp experience.

The linebacker

Fred Warner was no match on Tuesday and was still the hype man on defense, playfully mocking Purdy at the start of the 11-on-11 game. With Dre Greenlaw three months removed from the Achilles injury he suffered in the Super Bowl, DeVondre Campbell blends into the weak spot. Campbell didn’t play great toward the end of his Packers tenure, so it will be interesting to see how committed the 49ers are to him if the young prospect excels over the next three months.

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles filled in for Warner at practice and looked as confident as a fifth-year veteran should. Pushing him and Curtis Robinson (the strong side on Tuesday’s first unit) will be a group of young, action-hungry players: DeWinters, Jalen Graham and rookie Tatum Bethune.

Defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen watches San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen watches San Francisco 49ers practice, Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Santa Clara, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

Back corner

Deommodore Lenoir leaned inside right corner like a nickel again on Tuesday. This could really work for another season, especially if Isaac Yiadom earns the No. 3 (or No. 2) spot to play right back. Second-round pick Renardo Green was the team’s second nickel running back, and his aggressive, feisty nature was immediately apparent.

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With Charvarius Ward rehabilitating from core muscle surgery in February, that allowed Ambry Thomas to line up at left back on the first unit, but it didn’t help his cause. The 49ers should be excited to see what they can get from Rock Ya-Sin, Chase Lucas, Sam Womack and Darrell Luter Jr. In a battle for depth (and special teams service).

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