49ers roster 2023: Robert Beal Jr. is Kris Kocurek's latest project

San Francisco 49ers EDGE Robert Beal Jr.
San Francisco 49ers EDGE Robert Beal Jr. / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The 49ers used a fifth-round NFL Draft pick on EDGE Robert Beal Jr., who is raw but now receives refinement from defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

The San Francisco 49ers already have the best pass-rusher in the game right now, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in EDGE Nick Bosa.

However, ever since Bosa's rookie year back in 2019, the Niners have been looking for a perfect complementary pass-rusher who can help provide a lethal one-two punch on that side of the line of scrimmage.

It's a bit of a stretch to assume that San Francisco's fifth-round selection from the 2023 NFL Draft, Georgia EDGE Robert Beal Jr., will wind up being that ideal No. 2 rusher to pair with Bosa. And the 49ers already have others far above Beal on the depth chart who could potentially assume that role anyway.

Regardless, the 6-foot-4 and 255-pound Beal screams potential. And despite seeing a dramatic drop in production last year in contrast to his 2021 collegiate campaign, the hope is that defensive line coach Kris Kocurek can not only turn Beal into a decent NFL-level pass-rusher but can also make him into a top threat.

Why did 49ers draft Robert Beal Jr. in Round 5?

Beal was projected by some as a fourth-round pick, although day-three selections can be notably fluid.

Boasting 6.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2021, the production dropped the following year when Beal tabbed just 2.5 sacks despite playing three more games in 2022 than 2021.

The 49ers have long stressed their defensive line, yet they entered 2023 surprisingly thin with regard to depth, especially after losing defensive ends Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam to free agency.

While the Niners added low-risk pass-rushers like Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, finding additional backup edge rushers who can potentially address such depth issues is never a bad move.

In Beal's case, tapping into his potential instead of his documented performance is likely what defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, who has worked magic with other less-known pass-rushers before, will be tasked with doing.

How much will 49ers pay Robert Beal Jr. in 2023?

Rookie contracts are always relatively cheaper in contrast to those free-agent deals and extensions veteran players often receive, particularly if they're good and cash in.

Day-three NFL Draft picks also don't tend to earn too much, relatively speaking, and Beal isn't exactly an expensive commodity.

According to Over the Cap, Beal will earn up to $811,245 his rookie season. $244,980 of that is a guaranteed bonus, spread out over the four-year life of the contract.

Read more: Robert Beal Jr. reveals 49ers were his favorite team

What will Robert Beal Jr.'s role with 49ers be?

While Beal has plenty of promise, it's important to acknowledge the reality that late-round pass-rushers rarely develop into anything but supplementary players. As far as positional value goes, a good pass-rusher already looks good coming out of college, while the projects tend to stay toward the bottom of the pecking order.

Kocurek is inheriting someone who has good power and an ideal frame but will need refinement in terms of technique and finesse. Consistency will be a big thing for Beal, too, and that's likely another area in which the Niners' D-line coach will address.

In year one, expect Beal to be little more than a rotational rusher in sub packages where he won't have to potentially defend against the run.

What'll likely be the goal here is to turn Beal into a quality rotational rusher within a year or two and not expect too much out of him his rookie season.

Read more from Niner Noise