49ers vs Chargers: 5 bubble players who earned roster spot

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Arden Key, San Francisco 49ers
Arden Key #98 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

No. 3: 49ers EDGE Arden Key

Reserve outside pass-rusher Jordan Willis made one of the big defensive splash plays of the day by sacking quarterback Easton Stick in the end zone for a safety. But with Willis suspended for the first six games of 2021 because of a PED violation, the door remains open for the 49ers’ pass-rushing depth behind EDGEs Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, neither of whom played against Los Angeles.

Fellow EDGE Samson Ebukam recorded a sack, yet he’s almost automatically guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster as a tertiary outside rusher.

Former Las Vegas Raiders pass-rusher Arden Key, however, had a much greater hill to climb.

Key has shown to be far more effective in defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s wide-9 alignment, rushing from the outside in space and letting his speed shine. And while Key didn’t record one of the Niners’ five sacks on the day, he did manage to register a tackle for a loss while also breaking up a pass.

KPIX 5’s color commentator Tim Ryan sang Key’s praises during the game, saying Key would be a great addition to the roster and can vastly improve San Francisco’s pass-rushing depth.

Based on Sunday’s efforts, it’s looking as if Key is doing just that.