What will 49ers do with first NFL Draft pick after free agency?
By Peter Panacy
What about 49ers’ pass-rushing needs?
Samson Ebukam has one thing neither EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford have: a fully clean slate of health.
Over his four-year career, Ebukam hasn’t missed a game. And while his 6-foot-3 frame might be a little too undersized for a traditional hand-in-the-dirt edge rusher, his speed burst is awfully exemplary, and the lack of speed was something San Francisco’s pass rush lacked last year in the wake of Ford and Bosa’s nearly yearlong injuries.
Bosa will be back. Ford, however, probably won’t be as he continues to rehabilitate his back.
Ebukam, meanwhile, will be a situational pass-rusher. Not an every-down lineman, meaning there’s a good chance the 49ers use yet another first-round pick on a defensive lineman after doing so five times in the last six years.
Unlike the 2019 draft when the Niners landed Bosa, essentially every one of the 2021 edge-rushing prospects comes with some sort of question mark.
One first-round target, Miami’s Gregory Rousseau, blew up in 2019 after being a non-factor the year before, only to opt out of the 2020 season, essentially giving him one year of tape. Michigan’s Kwity Paye, who has all the physical tools to succeed at the NFL level, didn’t quite put together the stat-heavy numbers over four years in college, registering just 11.5 total sacks during that span.
Go down the list, and nearly every EDGE in this class comes with some sort of major concern like these two above. There’s no 2021 version of Bosa or last year’s standout, now-Washington Football Team EDGE Chase Young.
To make up for Ford’s likely absence, San Francisco will still need to target someone who can regularly fill that void and take the pressure off both Bosa and Ebukam.