NFL free agency rumors: Are 49ers interested in Israel Idonije?

Ezra Shaw

A report came out that the 49ers might be interested in Bears defensive end Israel Idonije. We take a look at the report, plus talk to a Bears blogger about Idonije.

I was poking around Twitter today, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport dropped a bit of random information in a recent tweet:

All things considered, this is kind of a curious tweet. Idonije stands 6'6" and is 275 pounds. He has been a 4-3 defensive end for the Bears, but would seem to be a bit of a tweener if he ended up with the 49ers. He is about ten pounds under Justin Smith's listed weight, and 18 pounds over Aldon Smith's listed weight. I suppose that shouldn't be considered a big deal since playing weights can be a bit fungible.

I was able to get a few quick comments from Dane Noble over at Windy City Gridiron. He provided some thoughts on Idonije:

Israel Idonije has had an interesting tenure in Chicago, being shifted from defensive end to defensive tackle several times. After playing DT in 2008, he was asked to trim down to be shifted to the outside, and ended up losing 40 pounds in the process. His first few seasons were over-shadowed by Tommie Harris, but the arrival of Julius Peppers in 2010 marked the beginning of the most productive stretch of Izzy's career.

In the last three seasons, Idonije has registered 20.5 sacks, largely benefitting from the double-teams that Peppers generates in passing situations. However, when Phil Emery selected pass-rushing specialist Shea McClellin in the first round of the 2012 Draft, Izzy's snap counts were greatly reduced.

The Bears have been vocal about wanting to keep him on board, but he was only given a one-year deal last season, and is now being allowed to test the market. With the Niners running a 3-4 defense and expressing interest, they must value his pass-rushing skills pretty highly. He's not the fastest DE around, but is very strong, and very athletic, and could fit in nicely with the aggressive defense in San Francisco. He'll be 33 years old this November, and that will play a huge factor in the type of contract that teams are willing to offer. My prediction is that he stays in Chicago, unless the Niners are willing to throw a multi-year deal on the table.

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