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3 free agent edge rushers the 49ers should target

The 49ers could still stand to add some talent at edge rusher. We have three players in mind who would be instant upgrades

Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

With the draft in the rearview mirror and the sights set on the offseason programs set to begin, there are still a number of intriguing names left on the free agent market.

It’s also important to keep in mind that now that we are past the draft, any potential signings made at this point do not count against the compensatory pick formula for next season.

That means a team like the 49ers, who have done such a good job creating draft capital with compensatory picks every year, can safely pursue some veteran options without worrying about it affecting their picks in the 2023 draft.

While the 49ers have a very deep roster that doesn’t necessarily scream “need” at any particular position, one are they could look to bolster their front-line depth is at the edge spot on the defensive line.

There are a number of players still that have yet to sign who could slot into an impact role on the 49ers defensive line, and help raise the ceiling of a defense that has been a top five unit for four years running. Here are three realistic options that would be a great fit on this 49ers defensive line:

Leonard Floyd

Floyd is coming off three extremely productive seasons for the Los Angeles Rams. This would be a no-brainer for the 49ers if they can work out the financial side of things and bring him in on a deal that makes sense for both sides.

He has recorded at least nine sacks in each of the last three seasons, and had an 11.2 percent pressure rate as the Rams’ primary pass rushing threat for the majority of the 2022 season.

At 30 years old, Floyd should still have plenty of tread on the tires to be a premium option to pair with Nick Bosa on passing situations, and provide the 49ers with a tried and true veteran at the position.

If the market Floyd desires doesn’t materialize soon, there is plenty of incentive to join the 49ers on a one-year deal and help form one of the best front fours in the entire league with Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave.

Justin Houston

This is a move that feels far more realistic if the 49ers are looking for a player they can slot into a specified role as a pass rushing specialist whose main objective is just to pin their ears back and get after opposing quarterbacks. Plus, Houston would be affordable.

At 34 years old, Houston is a bit up there in age, but you would have never guessed it by looking at his film from last season. He was a consistent force for the Baltimore Ravens and still has the speed and ability to win with power that makes him one of the more dangerous pass rushing threats even at this stage of his career.

He had 9.5 sacks and recorded multiple pressures in 12 of the 15 games he played in last season. If the 49ers are looking for a player who can contribute while also being a valuable mentor for the young players in that defensive line room, there is no better option than Houston that is currently available.

Markus Golden

2022 was a down year in terms of sack production by Golden’s standards, as the veteran edge rusher recorded just 2.5 on the season. What’s interesting however is the 46 pressures he recorded is the same amount he had the year prior in 2021, when he recorded 11.5 sacks. The consistency in pressure rate is the important thing to keep in mind here, and it’s only reasonable to expect him to perform better in a much improved situation on such a talented 49ers defensive front.

Golden is 32 now, but he still has enough spring in his step to win off the edge. He has also been an extremely dependable player from a durability standpoint, missing just one game out of a possible 66 over the last four seasons. He would give the 49ers a proven piece that could be a valuable part of a rotation that is missing multiple key pieces that contributed over the last couple of seasons.