This Brandon Staley disciple would complete the 49ers' defensive line

The free agent defensive tackle Austin Johnson would complete the 49ers' defensive line.

Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers
Buffalo Bills v Los Angeles Chargers / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The San Francisco 49ers have had a solid offseason thus far. They have made several signings that address their defensive line and linebacker group.

If they add this former Brandon Staley disciple, they will complete their defensive line.

The Niners entered this free agency period with pressing needs on defense. With Arik Armstead likely to be released and several of their defensive lineman departing in free agency, they needed to add players all over their defensive line. Plus, with the injury to Dre Greenlaw they also needed to add a linebacker who can fill in for Greenlaw as he recovers.

They have accomplished much of that with their signings of Leonard Floyd (edge rusher), Jordan Elliot (interior line), Yetur Gross-Matos (edge rusher), and Eric Kendricks (linebacker). Additionally, defensive tackle Maliek Collins is coming over from the Houston Texans via a trade.

As David Lombardi of The Athletic (subscription required) notes, it seems that San Francisco is trying to build more sustainable depth on their defensive line than it had last season.

While none of these players are necessarily star names, they have a proven track record of being on the field and being pretty solid players. Lombardi also notes that newly hired assistant coach Brandon Staley's influence can be felt with these signings as several of them are players he has coached in the past.

However, the 49ers may not be done adding to their defensive line.

If they follow this trend of adding reliable depth with players who have played for Staley in the past, then there is a free agent currently available who would fit that mold perfectly.

A Brandon Staley disciple would complete 49ers' defensive line

For the past two years, defensive tackle Austin Johnson played under Staley with the Los Angeles Chargers. He only played in eight games in 2022, but last season, he started all 17 games and had 46 tackles.

Like most of the free-agent signings the Niners have made thus far, Johnson does not jump off the page, but he would be a solid option to pair with Elliott at the nose tackle position.

Plus, his familiarity with Staley and the chance to join a defense with a lot of great players could elevate his game and allow him to thrive in San Francisco.

A Johnson signing would not send 49ers fans into a frenzy, but it would be in keeping with the theme of the signings thus far which is solid, affordable depth pieces who have a connection to Staley.

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