Around the NFC West: Clues on DL usage

Pre-draft news conferences featuring NFL general managers provide a good opportunity to ask about issues beyond the draft.

I was interested Wednesday in hearing the San Francisco 49ers' Trent Baalke explain what the team envisioned for Glenn Dorsey, the defensive lineman his team added in free agency. Dorsey, the fifth player chosen in the 2008 draft, appeared miscast at defensive end in the 3-4 scheme Kansas City adopted early in Dorsey's career.

Around the NFC West: April 18, 2013

"In our system, he's going to be asked to do some similar things, and yet some different things," Baalke explained. "When we go into our 40 package [with four linemen], he’ll be down inside. When we go into our 30 package [three linemen], he might be playing nose or might be playing some end."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News has the full Baalke transcript.

More from Baalke on Dorsey: "The good thing about him is his versatility. He can multi-align in our system. He can play three-technique, he can play one-technique, he can play the zero and he can play the five. And he can play the four. So his ability to multi-align is advantageous to us."

The numbers can sound confusing if you're not versed in NFL jargon. To review, a defensive lineman lining up at the zero-technique would be aligned directly over the center. The larger the number, the further away from the center the defensive lineman aligns along the line of scrimmage.

Versatility could be especially important to the 49ers if the team continues to use a smaller rotation on its defensive line. Dorsey played more than 70 percent of the Chiefs' defensive snaps in each of his first three seasons, peaking at 86.5 percent in 2010. His playing time fell to 59.7 percent over 15 games in 2011. Dorsey missed 12 games to injury last season. He played fewer snaps over the past two seasons combined than he played in any single season previously.

The 49ers' Ray McDonald and Justin Smith have played more snaps over the past two seasons, counting playoffs, than all but a couple defensive linemen in the NFL.