49ers roster 2023: When Breeland Speaks, the Niners should listen

Breeland Speaks has an awesome name, but he might end up having a nice little tenure with the 49ers, too, if things go well.
Michigan Panthers defensive end Breeland Speaks
Michigan Panthers defensive end Breeland Speaks / Jason Miller/USFL/GettyImages

The 49ers signed Breeland Speaks just days before their first preseason game of 2023, and he saw plenty of action early.

Merely days before the San Francisco 49ers opened up their 2023 preseason campaign on the road against the Las Vegas Raiders, general manager John Lynch and Co. elected to beef up what was a thin defensive line by inking defensive end Breeland Speaks.

Name puns aside, Speaks was originally a second-round NFL Draft choice of the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2018 out of Mississippi, but he never caught on there after his rookie season in which he recorded just 1.5 sacks, 24 tackles and a forced fumble.

Early in 2019, KC placed Speaks on injured reserve, and he subsequently suspended while on IR for violating the league's policy on substance abuse.

Kansas City parted ways with Speaks fully in September of 2020, and he subsequently bounced around the league a lot over the next year-plus, primarily appearing on practice squads and not seeing any regular-season action. Then, in December of 2022, he joined the USFL and subsequently led that league with nine sacks.

Why did the 49ers sign Breeland Speaks?

The Niners entered the preseason relatively shorthanded at defensive end. All-Pro edge Nick Bosa continues to hold out amid contract-extension negotiations, and rookie Robert Beal Jr. is working his way back from injury, too.

To ensure there were enough players on the first-, second- and third-string units, adding Speaks last minute would help the D-line rotation during practices and exhibition bouts.

It's about as low-risk a move that a team could make.

How much are the 49ers paying Breeland Speaks?

According to Over the Cap, Speaks is on a one-year deal with San Francisco that could pay him up to $870,000 if he makes the 53-man roster during the regular season.

There's zero in guaranteed money, though.

Could Breeland Speaks actually make 49ers' 53-man roster?

Behind Bosa, the 49ers do have a significant number of question marks at defensive end. Sure, Beal is a long-term developmental projection, while second-year pro Drake Jackson is pegged as the primary No. 2 opposite Bosa. Three other veterans are already part of the Niners' seemingly well-known reclamation process for castoff D-linemen: Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Taco Charlton.

Speaks would have to beat out at least two of those last three names to stand a chance.

After one preseason outing, it might seem as if San Francisco is willing to give Speaks that chance, as NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco pointed out when the 49ers played the Las Vegas Raiders:

We said "enough of the name puns," but Maiocco did that one on his own.

At any rate, Speaks faces a serious uphill fight to make the 53-man roster this season, but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.

If he winds up putting together a couple of awesome performances over the next two weeks of the preseason, it wouldn't be overly shocking for him to be a darkhorse addition.

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