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What’s Left in Free Agency: Potential Defensive Targets Still Available to 49ers

March 27, 2019

Image Credit: USA Today Sports 

 

 

 

The initial wave of free agency, and by extension the nonstop checking of Twitter, is now behind us. The San Francisco 49ers made their splash moves in an attempt to shore up an underperforming defense with the acquisitions of defensive end Dee Ford, linebacker Kwon Alexander and cornerback Jason Verrett. The focus has now shifted primarily to the NFL Draft, which is less than a month away. However, there is still a decent amount of talent left in the free agent pool that the 49ers should kick the tires on.

 

Defensive End Ezekiel Ansah

 

Ziggy Ansah spent the first six years of his career playing for the Detroit Lions after being selected fifth overall in the 2013 draft. In four of those seasons, he was able to produce at least 9 sacks, breaking double digits on three separate occasions. 2018 was not nearly as kind to Ansah as he was only able to play in seven games due to a shoulder injury. Questions about that injury and the bevy of talent among edge rushers have him patiently waiting for his next opportunity. If the price were right, Ansah could reunite with his former DL coach Kris Kocurek and add depth to an edge group that already brought in Dee Ford.

 

Safety Eric Berry

 

A history of injuries and a market saturated with safeties has left interest in Eric Berry, 30, quite dry. He was only able to play in two regular season and one postseason game for the Kansas City Chiefs last year following bone spur complications. When healthy, Berry has proven to be one of the best safeties in the game that brings a tremendous amount of leadership to a locker room. Another former  fifth-overall selection, Berry has 16 career interceptions including five in 2016, his last full slate of games. As noted before, the safety position was a one of great need and the 49ers chose to only bring back Jimmie Ward. Eric Berry could be brought in on a one-year, prove it deal to act as a bridge.

 

Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh

 

Once the best defensive tackle in the league, Ndamukong Suh has since been supplanted by his former Los Angeles Rams teammate Aaron Donald. The two formed one of the best defensive tackle duos in the league last season and it appears that Suh still has plenty left in the tank. He is a mercenary selling his particular brand of violence at this stage in his career, likely to sign one-year contracts until his retirement. Suh proved that he has the ability to play alongside an elite three-technique DT and still be productive. While the 49ers already have a logjam along the DL, Suh is a far better player than any of the other interior pass rushers whose 7 sacks would have been good enough for second on the team in 2018.

 

Safety Tre Boston

 

Stealing a solid player from a division rival is never a bad strategy. Tre Boston spent last season playing centerfield for the Arizona Cardinals and turned in a very respectable 2018. He logged three interceptions, one more than the entire 49ers’ defense, and had seven passes defensed. Boston is three years younger than Berry and comes without the injury history. If given the right opportunity, Boston could be more than just a bridge player and would at least provide some depth to a position group that has been decimated by injuries that past two seasons. 

 

Defensive End Benson Mayowa

 

A team can never have too many edge rushers. Benson Mayowa provided depth and flashes of excellent play for the Cardinals last season. He recorded four sacks, seven quarterback hits and 18 hurries in a reserve role which is stellar production from a depth piece. Mayowa, who will be 28 at the start of the 2019 season, could provide fresh legs in the drag out, beat-‘em-up games down the stretch.

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