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Well, that’s a bit of a surprise. The 49ers, after concerns that the shrinking cap could limit their options in free agency, have made a substantial play defensive end. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the team is signing Samson Ebukam, the former Ram, to a two-year, $12 million deal which could be worth up to $13.5 million.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2021
Ebukam has notched 4.5 sacks in each of the previous two seasons and was drafted 125th overall by the Rams in 2017.
The move to add another edge rusher is not at all surprising. What is surprising is that it happened so early in free agency at a sizable cost (though it could well be backloaded so the first year hits for less than $6 million). The need to add another edge rusher arose because Dee Ford’s health simply cannot be relied upon, and if he was actually healthy, he would almost assuredly be cut by the 49ers.
San Francisco was, and perhaps still is, expected to draft an edge rusher high in this year’s draft.
This puts into question whether the 49ers have a wrinkle or two up their sleeve, with Trent Williams still on the market and yet to be signed, and a need at center still looming large.
Ford has a more than $11 million injury guarantee, so San Francisco’s hands, under the current terms of his deal, are tied. Per reports the 49ers have restructured Ford’s contract to $24 million over the next two years. He was slated to have a $20 million cap hit in 2021.
In addition to Ford, the 49ers could also restructure the contracts of both Arik Armstead and Jimmie Ward to save up to roughly $5 million each, and extend Laken Tomlinson to save about $3.5 million.