The 49ers defense was unquestionably one of the scariest for opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks just a few years ago. They could get after the passer and create pressure as well as anyone with a combination of players. Due to age, off-field issues and retirements, the defense has lost its notoriety. That’s why they drafted Harold last year.
Going into the draft he was seen as a bit of a dark horse in a very deep edge rushing class and the 49ers snatched him up in the third round. Unfortunately he was stuck behind Ahmad Brooks and Aaron Lynch on the depth chart so didn’t get much playing time or opportunity to get after the QB. Things have changed though.
Aaron Lynch is going to miss the first four games of the season through suspension, and Ahmad Brooks is only getting older and there have been whispers for a few seasons that the 49ers may be looking to get rid of Brooks. If that’s the case, that opens up a huge opportunity for Harold to have a hell of a lot more snaps compared to last season.
What’s more, Harold was challenged at the end of last season to make a change. GM Ted Baalke challenged Harold to bulk up this offseason to help him out when it comes to holding the point of attack and taking on blockers. Well, he has. Harold looks noticeably bigger and is reportedly 20 pounds heavier, and it’s in muscle, making him around 270 pounds now. He does want to be around 265 come the regular season but that is significantly bigger for him and it is better suited to the 49ers the defense.
If that added mass doesn’t slow him down, with a year of NFL experience now under his belt, Harold could see a big leap in his production and maybe even carve out a starting role for himself for the years to come.