The 49ers were one of eight teams who placed a waiver claim on recently released Los Angeles Chargers defensive lineman Jerry Tillery, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. While Tillery was acquired by the Raiders on Monday, the 49ers, Lions, Panthers, Colts, Jets, Giants, and Kansas City also placed claims on the 26-year-old interior lineman.
Eight teams - Las Vegas, Detroit, Carolina, Indianapolis, San Francisco, New York Jets, New York Giants, and Kansas City - put in waiver claims for former Chargers’ first-round pick Jerry Tillery, who was assigned to the Raiders.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 14, 2022
Tillery was a consensus first-round prospect in the draft coming out of Notre Dame in 2019, and he was selected by the Chargers with the 28th overall pick. Yet, now in his fourth NFL season, Tillery has failed to establish himself as a consistent starter in Los Angeles.
A 6’6’’-295 lbs. interior defensive lineman, Tillery was expected to help clog up running lanes while also generating occasional pressure as a pass rusher. However, he has struggled mightily against the run and played a big role in the Chargers continued struggles stopping the ground game.
Tillery has appeared in 54 games (29 starts) over his career, amassing 106 tackles, 33 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 tipped passes. He has graded as one of the worst defensive linemen in the NFL over the past four seasons, according to PFF grades, where he received a 35.5 in 2019, 43.9 in 2020, and 46.3 in 2021 (players are graded on a scale of 0-100 with 60 considered average). Interestingly, Tillery’s 61.4 PFF grade in 2022 was actually the best of his career.
The 49ers may have been particularly interested in adding Tillery because of the injuries along their interior defensive line to Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan denied that those injuries played into the decision during his press call on Monday.
"He's just a good player who came available and we wanted to take our shot at." -Kyle Shanahan on the 49ers decision to place a waiver claim on Jerry Tillery— Niners Nation (@NinersNation) November 14, 2022
Fans should know soon enough how the 49ers feel about the depth along their interior defensive line. If the Niners add a different defensive lineman who is not in their mid-20s with a former first-round pick’s pedigree, it’s not a good sign for either Armstead or Kinlaw’s prognosis.