Rookie 49ers defensive lineman Ronald Blair has been used primarily as a nickel pass-rusher through four games. He prepared this week for more playing time with DeForest Buckner out of the lineup with a foot injury.
“I prepare every week like I’m going to get 100 reps,” Blair said. “I just want to make sure I know everything that’s coming at me. We have a pretty solid D-line group, so we have a next-man up mentality. It’s unfortunate that he’s hurt.”
Blair, a fifth-round draft pick from Appalachian State, said he is comfortable lining up at any number of positions along the defensive line, including standing up as an outside pass-rusher.
“We go through all the different techniques throughout practice,” Blair said. “We want to make sure that everybody knows every position so there’s no fall-off in case something were to happen.”
Something did happen at the end of the 49ers’ 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys when Buckner, the team’s No. 7 overall pick, went down with an injury. The 49ers are likely to include veteran Tony Jerod-Eddie among their 46 active players for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals to help compensate for Buckner's loss.
And Blair could see an increased role after playing just seven snaps against the Cowboys. He shared a sack with nickel back Chris Davis on a play in which Jaquiski Tartt was penalized for unnecessary roughness. (Because the foul was after the play, the sack still counted.)
The 49ers will face a different style of quarterback, with Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton not providing the same kind of moving target the team faced the past three games against Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott.
“It changes up our game plan a little bit, but at the same time we have to account for things beside his running ability,” Blair said of Stanton. “We just know because the quarterback might not run as much, that doesn’t mean he can’t do other things well. So we’re making sure we’re well-prepared on a short week.”