49ers training camp: 1 key battle to watch at each position
By Peter Panacy
49ers training camp battle: No. 3 outside pass-rusher
San Francisco is getting Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa back from his 2020 ACL tear, but the future is much cloudier surrounding his edge-rushing teammate, Dee Ford, who’ll still likely be sidelined with a serious back injury.
True, the 49ers added former Los Angeles Rams EDGE Samson Ebukam during the offseason. But Ebukam never had more than 4.5 sacks in a single season during his four-year pro career, so that might be a bit of a gamble to assume he can provide some Ford-like production.
Still, the Niners are envisioning the pass-rushing duo of Bosa and Ebukam being nearly as effective as Bosa and Ford were in 2019.
The real question is who’ll wind up being that key No. 3 situational pass-rusher off the outside.
Ideally, San Francisco moves defensive tackle Arik Armstead inside on pass-rushing downs, which was the case for much of 2019 when now-New York Jets EDGE Ronald Blair provided the supplementary pass rush.
In 2021, that role could have gone to depth EDGE Jordan Willis. But in light of Willis’ six-game PED suspension to start the year, the pass-rushing depth takes a massive hit.
Perhaps this opens things up for a player like EDGE Arden Key to make an impact, provided he rejuvenates his career after flaming out with the Las Vegas Raiders.