49ers 5 biggest needs after first wave of NFL free agency

Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dee Ford, SF 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (55) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 1: 49ers still need a starting pass-rusher

Yes, the Niners brought in Samson Ebukam shortly after reworking EDGE Dee Ford’s massive contract into a two-year, $24 million deal.

But Ebukam shouldn’t be envisioned as Ford’s automatic replacement, particularly with Ford’s injury status for 2021 totally unclear. And in the wake of the Trent Williams re-sign deal, it seems unlikely San Francisco will be able to spend big money on one of the remaining upper-tier pass-rushers available on the free-agent market.

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Quality pass-rushers don’t come cheap.

Ebukam will likely alleviate the pass-rushing depth concerns the 49ers have in the wake of parting ways with defensive end Ronald Blair. And with fellow defensive end Kerry Hyder testing the free-agent market after a career-best 8.5 sacks in 2020, one might figure Ebukam’s presence will help alleviate a loss there, too.

Assuming Ford isn’t back in Week 1, though, the Niners still need a complementary starting-caliber pass-rusher to pair with EDGE Nick Bosa.

Unlike the year in which Bosa was drafted, 2019, the 2021 draft doesn’t feature a no-brainer stud in the pass-rush department. While there are a lot of options with good upsides, each pass-rushing prospect has some notable question marks about a quality NFL-level impact.

That doesn’t remove this need from San Francisco’s queue, however.

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