San Francisco 49ers have had to endure a tough off-season with several key departures and now they will be looking to young stars to take over senior mantles.
Legendary linebacker Patrick Willis decided to retire at the age of 30 earlier this year after citing health reasons for his decision.
That decision was then followed up by the more shocking announcement that Chris Borland would hang up his cleats up as well, despite only being 24 years of age.
The shock surrounding that decision was felt league-wide, but perhaps the biggest blow to the Niners this off-season has come from Justin Smith's decision to quit football.
Smith was arguably the most important part of the 49ers defense in the last few years, and his presence on the defensive line will be sorely missed.
But at the same time football is always about the next man up, and the 49ers will be hoping that players like Lawrence Okoye finally step up this season.
Okoye is a former British champion discus thrower who the 49ers took a huge chance on two years ago. New head coach Jim Tomsula was instrumental in bringing Okoye to the franchise, and the discus thrower turned defensive end says he's hoping to finally repay Tomsula.
“I’m not going to talk about what I deserve or possible roster spots. I’m just going to say we’ve got a great D-line,” Okoye said, according to ProFootballTalk.
“We’ve got some really good, young talent and we’re all competing. Whatever they do, they’re going to have a good D-line, that’s all I can say. I’m enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to training camp and the preseason.”
Okoye added that he feels so happy for Tomsula and the opportunity that he has been given to lead the franchise forward.
“I’m so happy for him. Without him, I wouldn’t still be in the league. It’s great for me to see that he’s getting his just deserves. He’s been such a good coach for such a long time,” Okoye added.
Can Okoye become a star for the 49ers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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