The San Francisco 49ers went 2-14 last year. However, linebacker Gerald Hodges was not part of the team’s problem. His numbers for 2016 included 83 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions. He also forced one fumble. Now, Hodges is wearing a Buffalo Bills uniform. Last week, the Bills signed Hodges to a one-year contract. Can Hodges make Buffalo’s defensive front a force to be reckoned with?

3-4 to 4-3 switch

Under former coach Rex Ryan, the Bills switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive front. Ryan focused on a man-to-man defense and dropping back in coverage, which proved dismal for a once top five defense that used the 4-3 format under Jim Schwartz.

The 2015 and 2016 seasons ended in a 19th and 14th rank respectively for the Buffalo defense. Coach Sean McDermott is hoping to improve the defensive ranking for 2017. Gerald Hodges is a good step forward and a way to regain the defensive greatness that quarterbacks once feared. In 2014, the Bills had one of the best defensive fronts in football. It was their offense that struggled under quarterback Kyle Orton.

What Hodges brings to the field

Originally drafted for by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013, Hodges has shown consistent improvement every year in the league. In 2014, the linebacker had 66 tackles and 70 the following year. For the 2016 season, he added 13 more tackles and has learned to sack better and pick off quarterbacks.

Right now, at only 26 years old, Hodges seems to be in the prime of his career. At 6 ft. 2 and 236 pounds, he is mobile and solid.

Lorenzo Alexander and Shaq Lawson

Hodges fits in well with Lorenzo Alexander and second year player Shaq Lawson. The exceptional play of Alexander, a veteran who ended up with 76 tackles and 12.5 sacks, can complement Hodges.

Alexander seems to have found his niche with Buffalo. He also picked off his first pass ever last season. A good, energetic leader, the linebacker can motivate Hodges and Lawson. Lawson, the Bills’ first round pick in 2016, only played in 10 games. With 13 tackles and 2 sacks, he still must prove himself. However, Lawson did not play every down.

He should get more playing time this year.

The trio of Hodges, Lawson, and Alexander should be solid. Kyle Williams is also back for his 11th season. He is the backbone of the Bills’ defense and a dynamic team captain. His leadership and ability to make other players accountable is something that Hodges can benefit from this year.

Welcome to the Bills, Gerald Hodges.