A surprising answer…
In six seasons with general manager John Lynch at the helm, the 49ers have selected a defensive lineman with their first draft pick four times. That trend continued in the 2022 NFL draft when San Francisco selected edge rusher Drake Jackson out of USC with the 61st overall selection in the draft.
Jackson is a player who has flashed tremendous potential and enters the league with an eye-opening set of physical tools at his disposal. Those elite athletic traits paired with a defensive line coach like Kris Kocurek, as well as a strong supporting cast on the defensive line, point to San Francisco being a match made in heaven for a player like Jackson.
This is someone who can come in and not only be a viable secondary option to Nick Bosa on the edge but also provide a high ceiling of his own as a Pro Bowl level talent rushing off the edge for the 49ers should he reach his potential.
Last month at the combine, I asked Jackson which quarterback in the league he was looking forward to getting the chance to sack the most.
Here was his answer:
“So it’s pretty crazy. There’s actually a picture of me and Cam Newton when I played 7-on-7. We had played his 7-on-7 team, and the caption is “I’ll see you in the league.” So if I get there, and I end up seeing Cam. Hopefully, I can get a sack on him and say, you know I took a picture with you and said I’ll see you there, and now I got you.”
“Probably him (Cam), and hopefully Tom Brady stays. If you to Tom Brady, that’s legendary right there.”
It’s important to remember that I asked Jackson this question at a time when Tom Brady was still presumed to be retired. Since then, Jackson had his wish granted as Brady is now expected to play in what will be his 23rd season this coming fall.
Adding even more of a twist is the fact that the 49ers will be hosting Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi’s Stadium during the 2022 season. As of now, Newton is a free agent, but his most recent team, the Carolina Panthers, is also on the 49ers’ slate of games in 2022.
Jackson will more than likely get a shot at taking down Brady this season, but it remains to be seen if Newton will return to his former team. It would be quite the story for Jackson to kick off his career with a season that sees him bring down arguably the greatest player of all time while also getting an opportunity to take down Newton and remind him of that picture they took together once upon a time.