Who To Rep: Week 3

Welcome to the third edition of “Who to Rep,” our ongoing series in which we recommend a player to rep for the upcoming week. This could be a player poised for a big game, a return from injury, or even just someone whose birthday happens to land on game day. Or, put another way, this is a totally unscientific process but we hope you like it anyway.

This week’s pick is San Francisco rookie defensive end Solomon Thomas, fresh off a heartbreaking—but ultimately encouraging—loss in Seattle. San Francisco’s offense was largely a no-show (with the notable exception of an extremely promising explosion by running back Carlos Hyde against an otherwise stout Seattle defense). But the defense—led by Thomas and DeForest Buckner kept Russell Wilson on his heels all night long, with his only touchdown pass coming on a broken play and a high degree of difficulty catch from Paul Richardson.

For his part, Thomas led all linemen on both teams with four solo tackles, and threw in a solid QB hit on the elusive Wilson. Playing in just his second NFL game, Thomas was confident and aggressive all night, and that’s nothing but good news for the Niners. Their defense is stacked with young players (including injured top pick Reuben Foster), and strong play this early on from Thomas bodes well for the future of a team that may be closer to contending than anyone thought.

If their defensive youth movement pans out, the Niners may only be a quarterback upgrade (apologies to the corpse of Brian Hoyer) away from the playoffs… especially with divisional rival Seattle looking suddenly mortal with a shaky offensive line contributing to a lackluster passing attack two weeks in a row. Arizona likewise seems to be on the downslope of contention, and while Week 1 was a good look, it’s too soon to anoint the Rams as anything beyond “interesting.”

Speaking of the Rams, they’re next on Thomas’ hitlist, with a Thursday matchup in San Francisco. After bullying the Luck-less (forgive me) Colts in the season opener, Rams QB Jared Goff looked a lot more like Jared Goff on Sunday, panicking under pressure from Washington and managing just one TD alongside an interception. If Thomas and the Niners can keep him on the move—and given that they were able to keep the much more evasive Wilson scrambling, odds are good there—it’ll neuter the LA passing game.

Rams RB Todd Gurley’s been off to a hot start through two games, but with Thomas, Armstead, Buckner, and Bowman lurking, he’s likely to see a bit more resistance from the 49ers, particularly if Goff crumbles—and he probably will—under constant defensive pressure from Thomas & friends.

Rep Thomas' #94 this week in support of an emerging young defensive player who looks poised for a big game. A rep for Thomas doubles as a symbolic rep for the wider Niners defensive core, and the brighter future they represent for the scarlet & gold.

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