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Will Jeremiah Attaochu get more sacks than Elvis Dumervil?

The 49ers moved on from Dumervil, the team’s leading pass-rusher in 2017. Can Attaochu fill that void?

When the San Francisco 49ers elected not to pick up the contract option on pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil this offseason, I was surprised. I wrote about that fact, and in it I talked about Dumervil’s efficiency in a limited number of snaps. The 49ers used him sparingly, and he rewarded them with 6.5 sacks in 2017, most on the team despite him playing on just 30.31 percent of the team’s defensive snaps (341 total).

Dumervil’s cap hit for 2018 was set to be $4.25 million, and nothing I saw on tape led me to believe that he didn’t at least have another year of similar production in him. So I was a little bit surprised not only when they didn’t pick him up, but when they signed Jeremiah Attaochu as well.

Attaochu has a contract with a potential value higher than what Dumervil was set to make, at $5.125 million, with $2.5 million fully guaranteed. It’s safe to say some of that is incentive-based, but Dumervil has been much more productive as a pass-rusher, even as he’s slowed down. Attaochu had two sacks in 2016, six sacks in 2015 and two sacks in 2014.

He had none in 2017, and was a healthy scratch for most of the Los Angeles Chargers’ games. That doesn’t mean this is a bad signing, not by any means, but I’m not particularly bursting with confidence that he will solve any issues, and at a higher salary than Dumervil.

I suppose where the value of the deal comes in is age. The 49ers think Attaochu is a better player than the one that only managed to see the field for seven games in 2017. They think he has a higher ceiling than his play thus far would seem to indicate. He’s 25 years old, a former second-round pick, and should get every opportunity to prove his value to the 49ers.

Hopefully the move pans out, and hopefully Attaochu can meet whatever incentives are in his contract, making him earn more than Dumervil would have, and easing my personal concerns about losing a dependable veteran.