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49ers sign former Raiders pass-rusher Arden Key

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Kyle’s update, 1:37 p.m. PT: The former Raider has officially signed with the Niners. It’s more like “low-risk, medium reward,” but Key is a great value signing in late April.

The 49ers have been busy all month, it seems. We’re in the “low-risk high reward” stage of free agency, and that’s why San Francisco is hosting former Ravens safety Tony Jefferson. He’s not the only player the team will host, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The 49ers are hosting former Raiders edge rusher Arden Key on a visit Tuesday. He was an SEC freshman All-American, then recorded 12 sacks as a sophomore, and was named first-team All-SEC. Key was on a trajectory to become a top pick in the NFL Draft, but an injury during his junior year limited Key to eight gamed and four sacks.

Key left LSU for personal reasons during the spring before returning and showing up 280 pounds. Though he lost the weight, his athleticism hasn’t been the same since. He was selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft after a poor showing at the NFL combine. Key suffered a broken foot in November of 2019.

This past season, in 14 games, Key looked his best since entering the league. Though he didn’t have a sack, Key hit the QB on 8% of his 282 pass rushes. For reference, Kerry Hyder Jr. hit the QB on 6.4% of his 410 pass-rushing snaps last season.

Key turns 25 next month. He could just be a camp body. Then again, he could be a depth piece the 49ers are desperately looking for on the edge. Key doesn’t have to be Nick Bosa, but he’d be an upgrade from the practice squad players the team fielded at times during 2020.