PFF loves (and hates) 49ers' edge-rushing pickups in free agency

The Niners inked two outside pass-rushers in free agency this offseason.

PFF loved one of them and disliked the other.

Buffalo Bills edge rusher Leonard Floyd (56)
Buffalo Bills edge rusher Leonard Floyd (56) / Bryan Bennett/GettyImages

In looking at teams' best and worst moves of free agency, Pro Football Focus centered solely on the 49ers' transactions on the edge.

The San Francisco 49ers were notably active during NFL free agency, and it was apparent the No. 1 priority for general manager John Lynch was to revamp the defensive line.

Especially with a notable overhaul of outside pass-rushers.

The Niners said goodbye to last year's contributors, namely Chase Young, Clelin Ferrell and Randy Gregory, the former two already having signed free-agent deals elsewhere. That left a sizable void opposite All-Pro edge Nick Bosa, continuing the challenge Lynch and Co. have had over recent years in trying to find an adequate bookend.

To help alleviate the losses, and hopefully land someone who can fit the bill long term, San Francisco made two notable transactions inn free agency by onboarding veteran pass-rusher Leonard Floyd and the younger, less-proven Yetur Gross-Matos.

So, how good were the signings?

According to Pro Football Focus, which looked at all 32 teams' best and worst moves in free agency, the 49ers' two pass-rushing moves both made the list.

For the good and the bad.

Pro Football Focus loves 49ers' pickup of Leonard Floyd, not so much Yetur Gross-Matos

Floyd is the well-traveled veteran who has had at least nine sacks in each of the last four seasons, splitting time between the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills.

While Floyd isn't so much a solid run-stopper, he does have the pass-rush pedigree that suggests he can be effective opposite Bosa.

PFF fully bought into that notion by saying:

"Floyd’s career arc is a funny one, with his rookie contract in Chicago a story of a player who was uber-athletic and disruptive but could never get the sack numbers to match. Now as a veteran with the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills, Floyd managed to exceed his down-to-down impact in his sack numbers, and San Francisco paid for that a bit here."

A two-year deal worth $20 million, $12 million of which is guaranteed, is somewhat expensive for a player on the wrong side of 30 years old. But, when considering Young received a $12.5 million guaranteed deal with the New Orleans Saints, Floyd's contract doesn't seem quite as bad.

That said, PFF, wasn't buying into Gross-Matos' pickup:

"Gross-Matos wasn’t a great fit in Ejiro Evero’s base 3-4 defense as a big defensive end (6-foot-5 and 265 pounds), and he was never all that productive in Carolina throughout his contract. San Francisco must have really liked him as a prospect when he was the No. 38 overall pick in 2020, because this move is a bit of a head-scratcher."

True, Gross-Matos underwhelmed in Carolina. Having 13 sacks over four seasons doesn't suggest a high-value add, especially at an average of $9 million per season for San Francisco.

But, it's important to know that he's still young at 26 years old and won't be trying to fit into a 3-4 base defense. Instead, he'll have much more room to use his physical gifts in the 49ers' 4-3 base that features a wide-9 alignment.

And, yes, the Niners were interested in Gross-Matos back in the 2020 NFL Draft.

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