Drake Jackson USA Today

Drake Jackson’s rookie season wasn’t what he wanted it to be.

Not by a long shot.

He recorded just three sacks in 15 games as a San Francisco 49ers defensive end. His play declined and he was inactive for five of the six final games of the season, including well as all three playoff games.

“I feel like everything happens for a reason,” Jackson told media on Friday, including the Associated Press. “So when they sat me, I kind of had to take myself from the game and see what else is going on that I need to be doing. So basically, it kind of helped me in a way because instead of me being mad or sad from being taken out of the game, I figured out things that I needed to do to help myself to better myself further on.”

The No. 61 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft was opposite of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa, which hindered Jackson’s playing time to an extent.

Bosa himself said he noticed the way Jackson was able to bend, and do things he wasn’t able to do as a rookie himself.

When Jackson went to the 49ers, he instantly made an impact showing his ability to put pressure on the offense.

The team’s defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, told NBC Sports Bay Area in August, Jackson has the ability to find a way toward the quarterback, even if he’s falling. Saying that was a “God-given ability.”

The decline had Jackson taking his offseason workouts seriously. He added 13 pounds of muscle in order to silence the criticism that was thrown his way.

“I feel like you just got to take that and run with it,” Jackson said. “If you take it the bad way or wrong way, it can affect you. I took that and I ran with it and I just made sure I hit those areas in the offseason where I was failing or not doing the best job at the end of the season.”

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he was worried Jackson’s body was ready for the workload that was presented to him while the team headed into playoffs. It appears Jackson is taking the next steps to improve.

The coaching staff said they notice the 22-year-old arriving early and putting work in the weight room. They also know Jackson isn’t a finished product.


About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.