49ers reportedly still in pursuit of Israel Idonije

Ezra Shaw

The 49ers reportedly are still in talks with free agent defensive lineman Israel Idonije.

Fooch's Note: Idonije signed with the Detroit Lions. So much for that

Last week, the San Francisco 49ers released an injured Brandon Carswell, opening up a spot on the team's 90-man roster. There has been some talk of Austin Collie, and there is always the possibility the 49ers will add a camp leg to handle game-day kicking and/or punting work. While either of those options remains possible, the 49ers may be looking in another direction entirely:

If this sounds at all familiar, it is because Israel Idonije was reportedly on the 49ers radar during the early days of free agency. Back on March 22, Ian Rapoport reported that the Bears were interested in re-signing Idonije, but they "[m]ust fight off the #49ers to make it happen".

It is not all that surprising that Idonije has not signed as of yet. As a 32-year old veteran, when a deal wasn't done right away at the start of free agency, it made sense to wait and see how rosters shook out. Of course, it is entirely possible he just wasn't getting the money he wanted, and both sides have waited each other out.

When this news first popped up in March, I spoke with Dane Noble from Windy City Gridiron. In discussing why the 49ers might be interested, he said:

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.

Idonije had 7.5 sacks last year, and 20.5 over the last three seasons. The 49ers had Aldon Smith and his 19.5 sacks last season, but the next highest total was Ahmad Brooks with 6.5, then Justin Smith with three sacks. Aldon Smith was a wrecking ball, but the 49ers pass rush struggled down the stretch when the Smith & Smith both got hurt.

The 49ers brought in Tank Carradine with a second round pick, and Glenn Dorsey will get playing time all along the line. However, while Tank is a potential candidate as a long-term successor to Justin Smith, he enters training camp still recovering from a torn ACL, and likely will take some time to return to form. If signed, Idonije would likely compete for backup time behind Justin Smith in the base defense, while also getting some opportunities at defensive end when the 49ers switch to their frequent four-man fronts.

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