Each time the 49ers take a player via the NFL Draft, a veteran player on the roster winds up being in danger of losing his spot on the depth chart.
Reserve pass-rushers like Jordan Willis, Kemoko Turay, Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam were probably happy the San Francisco 49ers elected to use their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to beef up the defensive line, grabbing former USC EDGE Drake Jackson at No. 61 overall.
An already strong unit got stronger, while the reliance on Pro Bowl edge rusher Nick Bosa won’t have to be anywhere near as high as it was a year ago.
However, each one of those backups likely just saw his own chances of making the 53-man roster out of training camp decrease a little bit. Jackson, even if he falters early, will be given much greater leeway between now and Week 1.
In total, the Niners brought aboard nine players via the 2022 draft. Not all of them will pan out. Some, especially for a playoff-caliber team like San Francisco, won’t even have a shot at making the practice squad.
Others, however, may prove to be upgrades over the 49ers’ current options at their respective positions, meaning these five returning veterans may be in danger of losing their roster spots this season.
No. 5: 49ers EDGE Samson Ebukam
It’s one thing to be a back-end pass-rusher whose job is in danger because of Jackson’s arrival.
It’s another to be a notably more expensive pass-rusher in the same category.
That’s the situation Ebukam finds himself in, entering the second season of the original two-year, $12 million contract signed as a free agent in 2021.
In the wake of recording 4.5 sacks a year ago, the bulk of which was skewed towards the second half, Ebukam is due $8.25 million in 2022, yet the Niners could free up $6.5 million if they release him this offseason, according to Over the Cap.
Granted, what’s helping Ebukam is the fact Jackson is raw and will need some refinement. But if he even modestly sniffs his potential in year one, Ebukam could easily be the odd man out in what’ll likely be a cap-saving move on the part of San Francisco.