49ers free agency: 5 takeaways after opening moves in 2021
By Peter Panacy
No. 2: A starting pass-rusher remains a 49ers need
The 2021 NFL free agency pass-rushing class was awfully deep, chock full of talented players who could help transform any defense.
The problem, though, is even average-level pass-rushers can get costly awfully quick, making San Francisco’s two-year deal for Samson Ebukam quite understandable.
Ebukam will help fill the free-agent void left by EDGEs Ronald Blair and Kerry Hyder, who are both on the market, while also helping absorb the role left by injured EDGE Dee Ford, whose back injury limited him to just one game last year and is casting serious doubts on his status for the upcoming season.
But Ebukam isn’t an every-down player.
EDGE Nick Bosa is expected to return from a season-ending ACL tear suffered in Week 2 last year. But the 49ers can’t bank on Ford’s return, and there aren’t a lot of other high-quality edge rushers currently available on the roster.
There are a number of pass-rushing options available in the NFL Draft. But unlike 2019, when the Niners landed Bosa at No. 2 overall, essentially every pass-rusher in the 2021 class has some serious question marks. There’s no clear-cut no-brainer EDGE in this year’s draft.
San Francisco will either have to settle for a developmental EDGE in the mid-to-late rounds, gamble on someone early with some notable concerns or put this key need off until 2022 and hope to get by with the defense currently on hand.