The 49ers are dealing with serious injury attrition along their defensive line, which could prompt signing veteran Ndamukong Suh.
The San Francisco 49ers are pretty fortunate that 2023 hasn't been a year completely overwhelmed by injuries.
Sure, the Niners have lost a number of key players for the long haul, especially All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga, who's out for the year because of a torn ACL.
While San Francisco's secondary has had to overcome some injury adversity, it's the defensive line that is hurting the most as of late, particularly on the interior in the wake of two starters, Arik Armstead (foot, knee) and Javon Hargrave (hamstring), missing time.
Compounding the issue, the 49ers just placed second-year reserve defensive tackle Kalia Davis on injured reserve with a high-ankle sprain.
Given the shortages, would the Niners opt to sign a veteran to help plug the gap, perhaps someone like free-agent Ndamukong Suh?
Head coach Kyle Shanahan alluded to the idea during his post-Week 15 press conference. And while he didn't say San Francisco was actively courting the soon-to-be 37 year old, Shanahan did admit it was something he wouldn't rule out:
"I’m not ruling out anything. We have guys on our practice squad as you guys see that we used last week. But, that stuff we also aren’t exactly sure when Hargrave and Armstead are coming back. We do know they have chances this week. So, there’s a lot of variables that are playing together that we’ll be discussing here the rest of the day, tomorrow. Even if we don’t make a move in any area, that’ll probably be continuing throughout the year."
Shanahan's comments aside, would it make sense for the 49ers to ink Suh?
Well, yes. It would.
49ers should opt to ink Ndamukong Suh to reinforce D-line
Armstead missed half of 2022 with a foot injury. And while it's not clear whether his current injury is related, the unfortunate reality is that he's developed something of an injury reputation as of late and could be at risk of missing more time after already being out two weeks in a row.
Backup defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who has enjoyed an increase in playing time as of late and has done so at a high level, also has an injury reputation, too, after appearing in just 10 regular-season games over the last two years prior to 2023.
Tack on Davis' absence, and there's definitely a spot on the depth chart for a veteran like Suh.
Speaking of Suh, the five-time Pro Bowler is clearly beyond his prime and hasn't suited up for anyone this season at all after spending the latter half of 2022 with the Philadelphia Eagles. That said, he still wants to play for a contending team that has a need, and it sure seems as if the Niners would fit the bill.
In a rotational role for Philly last season, Suh notched 10 tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits. It'd likely be that kind of ask for Suh, should San Francisco be interested. Given how late it is in the season and Suh's advanced age, it's not likely whatever contract would be overly expensive either.
Given the shortages, the 49ers should absolutely explore a veteran with Super Bowl-winning experience and a desire to get a second ring. That's the kind of move a Super Bowl-contending team would make, as displayed by Philadelphia a season ago.
The Niners could easily take note.