49ers roster: 3 veterans who could lose their starting job to a rookie

Samson Ebukam #56 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Samson Ebukam #56 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Samson Ebukam, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Samson Ebukam (56) Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers veteran No. 2: EDGE Samson Ebukam

The 49ers pass rush was close to elite last year, registering 48 sacks during the regular season, which was tied for fifth most in the NFL.

Unfortunately, the bulk of those (15.5 in total) was from Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa, while the remainder of sacks were sprinkled up and down the defensive depth chart, and the No. 2 player on that list, defensive end Arden Key (6.5), is now with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As a result, the Niners used their top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on former USC EDGE Drake Jackson, who figures to be a three-down player at the pro level if his development hits the appropriate trajectory.

That’s not necessarily great news for veteran pass-rusher Samson Ebukam.

Ebukam, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent in 2021, started 11 games for San Francisco a year ago and didn’t wholly turn it on as a legitimate pass-rushing force until very late in the year, finally finishing with 4.5 sacks.

It’s fair to assume Jackson phases out Ebukam sooner than later, perhaps relegating the latter to a situational role only, if not pushing him off the roster altogether.