Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Pass-rushers are increasing in value as college and pro offenses send more receivers into routes and often become more efficient throwing the ball.
The 49ers' success this season depends in part on whether Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson can get to the quarterback. The Seahawks are banking on improved health from Patrick Kerney. The Rams need more from Leonard Little and Chris Long. The Cardinals drafted Cody Brown while hoping to get continued pass-rush production from Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Darnell Dockett and others.
Think a guy like Fred Dean might come in handy for the 49ers this season? Questions in the secondary would seem less important with a dominant pass-rusher in the lineup. Dean had 17.5 sacks for the 49ers in 1983. That is more than the Bengals, Browns or Chiefs managed last season (the 49ers had 30, tied with the Rams, Colts and Lions for 16th in the league).