San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was asked how he felt about his defensive line, outside of star edge rusher Nick Bosa.
The team will be without rookie pass rusher Robert Beal Jr., as he’s headed to the injured reserve list after re-injuring his hamstring. Here’s Lynch on the decision to place Beal on the IR:
“We thought the best thing for Robert, he’s a guy we really like and are excited to work for, but we’ve got to get that thing right. To qualify for the short term, he had to make our 53. He’s a guy who showed a lot and we’re thrilled about the prospect of working with him going forward, but we’ve got to get him back so that he’s ready. So, we’ll go through that process.”
Beal is the ideal backup defensive linemen. Based on what he showed during training camp when Beal was healthy, he reminded me of a mix between how Kerry Hyder plays with the athleticism of Samson Ebukam. So Beal will help the 49ers once he’s healthy.
Speaking of Hyder, Lynch went on to give an assessment of the rest of the edge rushers on the roster:
Drake Jackson has had a tremendous offseason, and we’re very excited to see that come to fruition on the field. Cle, Clelin Ferrell, he’s a fit, he’s a Niner. The way he plays, how he plays, his talents, his skillset, he plays hard, all those things. We’re excited about him. Kerry Hyder is just a pro’s pro, always in the right place. He’s a good football player. Austin Bryant is another guy who’s a very good scheme fit that we identified. Very excited about him moving forward.”
Bosa had 18.5 sacks and the 49ers were still middle of the pack in adjusted sack rate (16th) and pressure rate (14th). Charles Omenihu and Ebukam combined for 50 pressures and 9.5 sacks.
Jackson and the free agent additions have big shoes to fill. But the 49ers addressed replacing Omenihu and Ebukam’s production by adding Javon Hargrave. Investing in an interior pass rusher was necessary for the 49ers.
The team finished 31st in the NFL in sacks by interior defensive linemen. Only one defensive tackle has sacked or hit the quarterback more in a season than Hargrave did with the Philadelphia Eagles on the 49ers dating back to 2006 — DeForest Buckner.
Kris Kocurek has squeezed every ounce of talent out of which ever free agent on a veteran minimum contract the Niners throw in front of him, and Ferrell’s preseason is the latest example.
Expecting Ferrell to produce at an Omenihu level is unfair. The team paid Hargrave to do that, and then some. But both Omenihu and Ebukam took a leap in Year 2 under Kocurek. Jackson, who impressively batted six passes as a rookie in limited action, is next in line to make that jump.
But it’s all about Bosa. He had six more pressures than Ebukam and Omenihu had combined in 386 fewer snaps last year. The latter two had remarkable seasons for role players, but Bosa’s stardom is what makes this line go, which is why Lynch said, when asked if there’s any percentage if he’d trade Bosa, he answered, “No. Real simple.”