49ers needed pass-rushing help, Randy Gregory may provide just that

Maybe Randy Gregory will finally reach his potential under the tutelage of Kris Kocurek.
Denver Broncos defensive end Randy Gregory (R) against San Francisco 49ers tackle Matt Pryor (L)
Denver Broncos defensive end Randy Gregory (R) against San Francisco 49ers tackle Matt Pryor (L) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The 49ers executed a mid-week trade with the Broncos for pass-rusher Randy Gregory, who'll be called upon to support Nick Bosa and Co.

The hope that veteran defensive end Randy Gregory could become a prolific No. 1 pass-rusher have long since passed, as the 30 year old has just 19.5 sacks over a lengthy career that stretches back to his entry as a second-round NFL Draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.

That career has been blotted by both injuries and off-field issues, although Gregory has turned into a decent rotational player since that point, jumping from Dallas to the Denver Broncos in 2022.

However, with the Broncos a massive mess over the first four weeks of the 2023 season, combined with the desire to focus on younger players for what looks like will be a notable rebuild, Gregory's spot there was anything but assured.

So, according to a Friday report from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the San Francisco 49ers decided to bolster their already-strong defensive line via a trade with Denver for Gregory.

Not long after, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the trade compensation, which involved the Niners sending off a sixth-round draft pick in 2024 to the Broncos for Gregory and a Round 7 pick.

San Francisco will absorb a good chunk of the contract Denver gave to Gregory back in 2022, which includes a $14 million cap hit for each of the next three seasons through 2026, according to Over the Cap. But there isn't any guaranteed money after this season, which means the 49ers could make the edge rusher a cap casualty with no dead money.

Also, according to Mike Klis of Denver's 9News, the Broncos will absorb the bulk of Gregory's 2023 salary:

To make room on the depth chart, the Niners released defensive end Kerry Hyder.

How Randy Gregory shakes up 49ers depth chart

The Niners already have the best defensive player in the game right now, Nick Bosa, but the supporting cast off the edge around him has been a bit lackluster over the first quarter of the season.

Sure, second-year pro Drake Jackson registered three sacks in the 2023 opener but hasn't tallied one since, while reserve pass-rushers like Hyder and Clelin Ferrell have also been relatively quiet.

Gregory's presence might be a vote of no confidence in either Jackson or Ferrell, or it could simply be the age-old adage of, "when teams think they have enough pass-rushers, they should add another."

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Plus, as often seems to be the case, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek has to be enticed by the idea of molding yet another pass-rusher who didn't quite turn into the prolific player many thought he'd be.

While the dollar amount is hefty enough, there's room for pass-rushing help behind Bosa, and Kocurek will be tasked with getting the most out of what Gregory can offer.

Oh, and Gregory will join his new Niners teammates to play his old team, the Cowboys, this Sunday in Week 5.

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