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49ers banking on Ebukam's versatility for strong D-line

NBC Sports
Samson Ekubam

The 49ers entered free agency with three starters on their defensive line.

They likely rounded out their front four with a reported agreement with soon-to-be-former Los Angeles Rams edge rusher Samson Ebukam.

The 49ers know three of their starters along the defensive line: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw. The 49ers are holding out hope that edge rusher Dee Ford will be available. They cleared ample salary cap space with a restructure of his contract to a two-year, $24 million contract, the NFL Network reported.

The 49ers cannot be expecting Ford to be available this season after he missed the final 15 games of the 2020 season due to back condition. They can only hope.

Ford had durability issues during his career with the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2019 trade brought him to the 49ers.

History suggests Ebukam is more of a sure thing.

Ebukam, who turns 26 in May, has not miss a regular-season game in his four NFL seasons.

Ebukam showed promise after entering the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick from Eastern Washington. Now, he will become one of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s prized pupils.

He agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with another $1.5 million in incentives, reports the NFL Network. Ebukam will be allowed to officially sign with the 49ers on Wednesday at 1 p.m., when the free-agent signing period begins.

The 49ers’ outside pass rush last season left a lot to be desired. The team registered just 30 sacks. Free-agent Kerry Hyder led the 49ers with 8.5 sacks, while Armstead was second with 3.5. That comes off a 48-sack season in which the 49ers rode the strength of their defensive line to the Super Bowl.

 

In addition to Ford’s prolonged absence in 2020, Bosa sustained a season-ending torn ACL in his knee in the first quarter of the 49ers’ Week 2 game at the New York Jets.

Ebukam was part of a deep rotation of Rams edge rushers, so he was called on to play only 35.45 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. The 49ers could use him as a pass-rush specialist with Armstead playing most base downs at defensive end.

RELATED: 49ers free agency grades: Ebukam worth taking chance on

However, the 49ers expect Ebukam to be on the field for the snaps that matter.

He should have an opportunity to excel because he will regularly go up against one-on-one blocks.

That’s the benefit of having Bosa on the other side.

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