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Super Bowl 53 gives us a pair of edge rushers to watch

Even if you don’t have a rooting interest, two potential free agent edger rushers will be worth watching.

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Los Angeles Rams v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s officially Super Bowl week, with the Pro Bowl behind us and Super Bowl 53 all that stands between us and the offseason. The Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots have arrived in Atlanta to begin their preparations, and it’s time to figure out rooting interests.

Whether you want to see the Rams or Patriots win, 49ers fans do at least have a couple players of note to keep an eye on during the game — specifically, edge rushers. Dante Fowler (Rams) and Trey Flowers (Patriots) have made some big plays for their teams in the postseason, and both are scheduled to hit free agency when the new league year starts in March.

There is a decent chance the Patriots use their franchise tag on Flowers. It’s not a guarantee, but it would not be a surprising development. On the other hand, Fowler is not expected to get the franchise tag, which means he should hit free agency unless he and the Rams come to terms on an extension before then.

Fowler was the Rams top-rated player against the Saints in the NFC title game, according to Pro Football Focus. He had four pressures on Drew Brees, and closed the deal with one sack. He joined the Rams midway through the season after the Jacksonville Jaguars decided it was time to move on. In ten games with the Rams he has four sacks and 29 total quarterback pressures to go along with 14 run stops.

Meanwhile, Trey Flowers was graded poorly in the AFC title game, but still finished with five pressures, including a sack, and two run stops. He finished the regular season ranked 18th in PFF’s pass rush productivity stat, and third in overall defensive grade. He graded better as a run defender than pass rusher, but PFF viewed him as great in both.

The 49ers have plenty of cap space to spend, so now it’s a matter of seeing who actually hits the open market. Brandon Graham makes a lot of sense to complement a young first round pick, but Fowler and Flowers would both be given a shot at an extended run with the 49ers. Flowers is the better of the two, but both would provide the 49ers with an upgrade at edge rusher.