We’ve been shuffling through some free agent players the last week or so. The San Francisco 49ers have a hole at defensive tackle behind DeForest Buckner and D.J. Jones as Sheldon Day is a free agent, as is Earl Mitchell. The Detroit Lions released veteran defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison on Thursday. Harrison has been known to be a great run stopper in years past. He’s also been recognized as one of the hardest working leaders in the NFL. That feels like the type of player John Lynch would gravitate toward.
Thee Lions saved over $6.7 million in cap space. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan said after Harrison was traded from the Giants, he turned “sour” and “didn’t want to become a leader. We always hear those stories after a player is released. San Francisco isn’t Detroit or New York. The 49ers are in a position to offer all free agents, not many teams can: a chance to win. That could help the team retain some of their own free agents, like Emmanuel Sanders, and possibly get veterans like “snacks” in on a team-friendly deal.
Harrison, who contemplated retiring, turned 31-years-old last November. Harrison was on the injury report every week since Week 8. He battled a groin, knee, calf, and shoulder injuries, but only missed one game. You know he’s going to tough it out, and his emotions and passion may be perfect for the Niners locker room.
I’m sure you’re wondering how Harrison has performed on the field. This visual sums up ‘snacks’ perfect:
Damon Harrison's 2019 regression in GIF form. Up and right are good. He was one of the best run-stopping DTs from 2016-17 and still made a jump in 2018, a season in which he played 17 regular season games. This helps you see both why the Lions extended him and why they cut him. pic.twitter.com/Q82Jh2ve65— Bryce Rossler (@btrossler) February 21, 2020
Harrison played 46% of the snaps in 2019 for Detroit. That number would likely drop to 30% in San Francisco, so “less is more” could be the case. Harrison finished 18th in the NFL in stops, with 27. DeForest Buckner had four more, and nearly 300 more snaps. While ‘snacks’ may not offer any pass rushing upside, he’s the run stuffer and veteran presence the 49ers are looking for.