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ESPN believes Yannick Ngakoue is the one free agent the 49ers should sign

Ngakoue has the sack totals teams covet, as well as experience as a Wide-9 pass rusher

Indianapolis Colts v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz went through each team and listed one player every team must sign on ESPN. He selected an edge rusher for the 49ers with the thought that Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu sign elsewhere during free agency:

DE Yannick Ngakoue

The 49ers could use a veteran rotational edge rusher. Last season, Nick Bosa played only 74% of defensive snaps in games in which he was active. Even the greats need a breather occasionally! The other starter next year may be youngster Drake Jackson, a 2022 second-round pick who played only 29% of the defensive snaps as a rookie. The 49ers could bring in Ngakoue, who has played for four different teams over the past three seasons but still had 9.5 sacks for Indianapolis in 2022. His 14.1% PRWR was not near the top of the league but was comfortably above average.

When the 49ers hired Steve Wilks as their defensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan was adamant that the structure of the defense would remain the same. That means the need for an edge rusher who excels in the Wide-9 remains.

That’s Ngakoue’s specialty. Yannick turns 28 at the end of March, and is coming off an underwhelming season, despite what his sack total suggests. But Ngakoue wasn’t playing opposite of Nick Bosa with the Colts.

He’s a player who is generally viewed as one-dimensional. Playing the run has never been Ngakoue’s strength. So handing out a lucrative contract to an ineffective run defender doesn’t jibe with how the 49ers have operated.

The Niners may benefit from Ngakoue playing on multiple teams and being a pass rusher only during the past few seasons once it comes time for contract negotiations.

In the article, Mike McGlinchey signed with the New England Patriots and Tashaun Gipson joined Robert Saleh and the Jets.