Here’s why and when 49ers would sign EDGE Kemoko Turay

Kemoko Turay #57 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Kemoko Turay #57 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The 49ers reportedly hosted free-agent EDGE Kemoko Turay on a visit. Should they sign him, here’s what it would accomplish heading into 2022.

The San Francisco 49ers have never been shy about trying to land supplementary pass-rushers on the cheap. In 2020, they brought aboard two names who coincidentally find themselves on the roster in 2022, Kerry Hyder (who spent 2021 with the Seattle Seahawks) and Jordan Willis, while the 2021 pickups of EDGEs Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu beefed up the depth last season.

Now, a new name could be added to the fray.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Niners hosted former Indianapolis Colts EDGE Kemoko Turay on a visit:

Turay, the Colts’ second-round NFL Draft pick in 2018 out of Rutgers, never truly caught on as a prolific pass-rusher, and a broken ankle in the middle of his second pro season ultimately hindered both that year’s campaign and the following one.

Essentially, Turay had to wait until 2021 to get right again, putting forth a career-best 5.5-sack campaign over 13 games played.

Kemoko Turay Defense & Fumbles Table

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San Francisco didn’t sign Turay outright, and that makes sense. According to Over the Cap, the 49ers have less than $2 million in space right now. And while Turay likely won’t cost much more than a veteran’s minimum at this stage, the Niners simply don’t have the space to offer a contract at the moment.

Leaving the chatter about a certain quarterback who could be moved to free up a lot of cap space (we’ve gone over enough of that already), let’s dive deeper into what Turay might potentially offer San Francisco’s defense if signed.

Why 49ers would entertain signing Kemoko Turay

First, let’s establish the need.

The 49ers have an elite pass-rusher in EDGE Nick Bosa, who recorded a career-best 15.5 sacks last season. But they also lost their No. 2 sack artist in defensive end Arden Key, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL free agency.

Hyder did manage 8.5 sacks in 2020, yes. But he’s far from a speed rusher. And with Ebukam mostly disappointing with 4.5 sacks in his first year with the Niners, one might think infusing some more rotational talent would be a priority.

Particularly with signs pointing to oft-injured EDGE Dee Ford being a post-June 1 cap casualty.

Turay is a speed rusher who ran an impressive 4.65 40-yard time during his 2018 NFL Combine, and last year’s San Francisco moves suggested the team was focusing on more speed for the pass rush than anything else.

It’s not likely the 49ers would want Turay to be an every-down lineman. But as someone who could regularly rotate alongside Hyder, Willis and Ebukam, the 26-year-old Turay would be a workable piece.

When would 49ers sign Kemoko Turay if they did?

As noted, the Niners currently don’t have enough cap space to offer up a contract for Turay. And while there are plenty of ways to squeeze out more cap space, it’s not likely to happen anytime soon (cough, cough, that quarterback).

However, there’s another factor at play here.

As Niners Nation’s Kyle Posey pointed out, San Francisco might be convinced to wait until May 2 before trying to ink Turay, as waiting until that date means any NFL free agency selection won’t count towards the formula that helps determine compensatory draft picks.

With the 49ers having lost some substantial free-agent talent during the offseason and likely suffering a net loss of qualifying free agents, holding out on Turay makes sense.

So, don’t look for the Niners to sign Turay anytime soon. But if they do, the pass rush will be getting that depth it had last season.

Next. 49ers' 15 best free-agent acquisitions of all time. dark