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Former Lions edge rusher Austin Bryant signs a 1-year deal with the 49ers

A former 4th round pick in 2019 was a healthy scratch for a handful of games in 2022 and has an extensive injury

Philadelphia Eagles v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Kyle’s update, 5:02 p.m. PT: 49ers signed Austin Bryant to a one-year deal, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero

The 49ers are still pursuing free agents, and based on their latest visit, are in the market for edge rusher help. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that former Detroit Lions edge rusher Austin Bryant is visiting 49ers headquarters.

Bryant, 26, was a former 4th round pick out of Clemson in the 2019 NFL Draft. The 6’6”, 280-pounder finished last season with 11 pressures on 125 pass rushing snaps, per Sports Info Solutions. Bryant had one tackle for loss and three quarterback knockdowns, but did not record a sack.

Injuries have been the story of Bryant’s career, dating back to his days in college, where he missed the first six games of his sophomore season due to a foot injury. Bryant began his rookie year on the injured reserve list. In 2020, he was on the PUP list until November 7. Both of those stints on the IR/PUP were due to pectoral injuries.

So, in Bryant’s first two seasons in the NFL, he had played a total of ten games, as he missed additional time in 2020 with a thigh injury. He made a good first impression on then new head coach Dan Campbell after the 2021 training camp. Campbell was asked who stood out positively that he didn’t expect. Here’s what Campbell said:

“I think Austin Bryant, now he was hurt last year, but I know this, this guy was all out, all of the time the plays that he did play, but to watch him being here and get his feet back under him and get the reps, get the load, he’s been pretty impressive. I think this guy’s really got a high ceiling and can continue to grow. I think he’s even twitchier than I thought he was. Those would be three pretty good examples.”

Bryant’s snap counts have gone up during the previous two seasons, but he’s still missing time. For example, he played 207 snaps in nine games last year with Detroit.

Bryant missed time in 2021 due to a shoulder sprain, but flashed toward the end of the season where it appeared he was settling into his role and notched 4.5 sacks under the new coaching staff.

But he wasn’t able to build off that in 2022, where he played 18 percent of the snap counts. Bryant was outplayed by rookie Josh Paschal early in the season and then James Houston later on in the season, which is why he played so sparingly.

Bryant was a healthy scratch in numerous games and fell out of the two-deep rotation. The 49ers would be betting on that twitchiness Campbell stated above, and Kris Koucrek’s coaching to bring the best out of Bryant.