The 49ers are going to have to cut some good players by the time Week 1 rolls around, meaning these veterans need to impress early at OTAs.
San Francisco 49ers fans will catch their first glimpses of what the 2022 installment of the team will look like this season, as the Niners will kick off organized team activities on Monday, May 23.
The roughly nine days of practice, which are closed to the public but do have media access, aren’t anything like padded training-camp sessions. And there are only so many takeaways to evaluate from these watered-down drills when it comes to trying to guess what the 53-man roster will look like come Week 1.
Still, OTAs are nevertheless a crucial step in determining who has a leg up on the depth chart, who is moving off the roster bubble and who might be in danger of being cut at the end of the preseason.
Quite a few veterans fall into this category this offseason, so let’s take a look at five players who’ll be watched oh-so-closely by head coach Kyle Shanahan and San Francisco’s staff.
No. 5: 49ers EDGE Samson Ebukam
The 49ers made former Los Angeles Rams EDGE Samson Ebukam a fairly high-profile free-agent signing a year ago, inking him to a two-year, $12 million deal. However, should they decide to part ways with him prior to the regular season starting, they’d save $6.5 million in cap space against $1.75 million in dead money, according to Over the Cap.
This certainly made its way into the discussion after Ebukam largely unimpressed for the first two-thirds of the regular season, ultimately finishing with 4.5 sacks over 17 games played.
The Niners do have a number of depth rushers on their roster, and Ebukam likely has the edge over reserve pass-rushers like Jordan Willis and Charles Omenihu. But it’s feasible that another free-agent pickup, Kemoko Turay, now winds up slated to assume Ebukam’s role in 2022.
On top of that, San Francisco’s second-round NFL Draft addition of USC EDGE Drake Jackson casts a longer shadow over Ebukam’s roster chances.
Simply put, Ebukam will need to prove his value to the 49ers right out of the gate.