SF 49ers: Does Ezekiel Ansah have anything left to offer Niners?

Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Ezekiel Ansah #94 of the Seattle Seahawks (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers inked veteran pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah to alleviate the loss of EDGE Nick Bosa. But does Ansah have anything left for the Niners?

Two or three years ago, the idea of the SF 49ers landing veteran defensive end Ezekiel Ansah would have been a dream scenario.

Turns out, that “dream” came a few years too late.

Granted, the Niners didn’t exactly need Ansah prior to 2020. After all, they were hoping their outside pass-rushing trio of Arik Armstead, Dee Ford and Nick Bosa would be more than enough to continue the prospects for getting back to the Super Bowl and winning it this time.

But Ford has already been banged up with a neck injury early this season, prompting some initial contact between Ansah and San Francisco’s general manager, John Lynch. The two sides didn’t come to an agreement.

Yet that was before the SF 49ers lost Bosa to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 2 versus the New York Jets.

Now, Ansah held much more leverage and ended up inking with the team on a one-year deal, as reported first by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:

Ansah is something of a polarizing player. There’s no questioning him being a force earlier in his career with the Detroit Lions, which included a career-best 14.5-sack campaign amid a Pro Bowl year back in 2015. But he’s also been up and down, marred by injuries and generally inconsistent from a year-to-year basis.

The numbers below don’t lie:

Ezekiel Ansah Defense & Fumbles Table
6 yr6 yrDET80732103148.02181625660110
1 yr1 yrSEA11122252.51812638

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Generated 9/21/2020.

Granted, Ansah won’t come anywhere close to replicating the kind of impact Bosa had during his first year-plus with San Francisco. And that’s not the objective here.

But it’s a fair question to wonder exactly what Ansah has left.

SF 49ers: What does Ziggy Ansah have left to give the Niners?

At 31 years old and coming off back-to-back uninspiring seasons with both the Lions and Seattle Seahawks, it’s safe to surmise Ansah is winding down his professional career. The fact he lasted this long into free agency backs up that statement.

Yet there might be a caveat with how poorly Ansah looked during his time in Seattle, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport explained to KNBR 680’s Murph and Mac Show Monday morning:

"Played for the Seahawks last year; didn’t play well. But also couldn’t train because he was coming off a torn labrum. So, when they got him, he was like 260 pounds. He’s up to 280 now. So, he’s in a much better situation now with the 49ers than he was with the Seahawks last year."

That’s a potential bonus. So is the fact Ansah will be reuniting with his former defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, who oversaw Ansah’s best seasons with Detroit and now performs the same duties with the SF 49ers.

But those two factors don’t entirely eliminate some of the concerns surrounding Ansah’s production.

The sacks partially tell the story, yet one could also look at Ansah’s pressure rate as an indicator of his decline. Last year, per Pro Football Focus, Ansah had a pressure rate of 4.8 percent. The year before with Detroit, it was 11.9 percent. Going back to Ansah’s last double-digit sack campaign in 2017, the rate was 8.1

If you’re looking for an X-factor here, it’s getting Ansah back closer to the pressure rate of 10.0, not 4.8 percent.

Perhaps that’s something Kocurek and a still-talented Niners defensive line can help Ansah with over the remainder of the season, provided he stays healthy of course.

Next. 3 free-agent pass-rushers 49ers must consider after Nick Bosa injury. dark

In truth, though, it’s going to be hard for Ansah to find anything of substance with his new team, and fans won’t stop missing Bosa during the duration.