49ers look to add veteran edge rusher in free agency before NFL draft

49ers look to add veteran edge rusher in free agency before NFL draft

The free-agent signing period begins Wednesday at 1 p.m. This is Part Four of a series that examines the 49ers’ biggest offseason needs and their options in free agency.

The 49ers used the first hours of the open negotiating period to fill a need at inside linebacker.

They remain in pursuit of a veteran edge rusher.

DeForest Buckner supplied the 49ers last season with their first legitimate pass-rush threat since the days of Aldon Smith.

Buckner has things handled on the inside. Now, the 49ers need to add upgrades on the outside via free agency and the draft. The 49ers’ top edge rushers last season were Ronald Blair and Cassius Marsh, who recorded 5.5 sacks apiece.

An upgrade at edge rusher would have an impact throughout the 49ers’ defense. The 49ers managed an NFL-record-worst two interceptions last season. Opposing quarterbacks were rarely rushed into bad decisions and poor throws.

On the roster

Cassius Marsh, Ronald Blair, Pita Taumoepenu, Dekoda Watson

On the market

Considering the 49ers are so thin at edge rusher, there should be plenty of options available in free agency who can provide the team with upgrades.

The 49ers figure to have interest in Ziggy Ansah, whom 49ers executive Martin Mayhew selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft as general manager of the Detroit Lions. Moreover, new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek worked with Ansah. A six-year veteran, Ansah has been plagued by injuries. But in 2015 and ’17, when he was mostly healthy, Ansah recorded 14.5 and 12 sacks.

Justin Houston, 30, recorded 9.5 and nine sacks the past two seasons. In 2014, he had 22 sacks. The Kansas City Chiefs announced Houston's release Sunday after failing to find a trade partner.

Of course, there is such a premium for pass-rushers that many of the top performers are already off the market. Demarcus Lawrence (Dallas), Jadeveon Clowney (Houston), Dee Ford (Kansas City) and Frank Clark (Seattle) were tagged as franchise players. Brandon Graham (Philadelphia) and Dante Fowler (L.A. Rams) were signed to extensions before the start of the open negotiating period. During the opening negotiating period, Trey Flowers and Terrell Suggs reportedly reached contract agreements with Detroit and Arizona, respectively. The Packers added Preston Smith (Washington) and Za'Darius Smith (Baltimore).

[RELATED: Latest NFL free agency rumors, live updates and news]

Offseason approach

The 49ers do not have a need to add just one edge rusher. The 49ers need multiple edge rushers. One of those edge rushers is likely to come in free agency. Then, the 49ers will have the opportunity to select either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen with the No. 2 overall draft pick.

Ex-49ers first-round pick Joshua Garnett cut by Lions after six months

Ex-49ers first-round pick Joshua Garnett cut by Lions after six months

Josh Garnett's NFL career has hit another snag.

The former 49ers first-round pick was cut by the Detroit Lions over the weekend as the team reduces the roster to 80 players. Garnett signed with Detroit in February after spending the 2019 season out of the NFL.

San Francisco traded up to select Garnett at No. 28 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, as the Stanford product was one of the nation's top offensive lineman. Garnett won the Outland Trophy in his senior season with the Cardinal, given annually to the NCAA's best interior lineman.

[RELATED: McGlinchey hopes 49ers, NFL players hold selves accountable]

Garnett started 11 games as a rookie with the 49ers, but was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury just prior to the start of the 2017 season. Garnett was unable to secure a starting spot in 2018 and played just seven games.

After denying his fifth-year option, the 49ers made Garnett one of the organization's final cuts before the 2019 campaign.

Just 26 years old, it remains to be seen where Garnett might find his next home in the NFL.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' Mike McGlinchey hopes NFL players hold themselves accountable

49ers' Mike McGlinchey hopes NFL players hold themselves accountable

The 49ers are scheduled to open the 2020 NFL season on Sept. 13 against the Arizona Cardinals.

They will compete head-to-head against the teams on their 16-game regular-season schedule, but 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey also is mindful that all players – even those on different teams – are on the same side in trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Typically, almost anything goes in the midst of a pileup at the line of scrimmage, where the same defensive linemen and offensive linemen might be waging one-on-one battles in close quarters for more than 60 snaps a game.

This season, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more might be at stake on game days than just the outcome of a football game.

“You really hope guys are really pros about everything that’s going on this season because it’s not just your teammates and your teammates’ families,” McGlinchey said Monday in a video call with Bay Area reporters. “Once you start playing games, you’re affecting the entire league at that point.

“Hopefully, everybody can have the discipline and control and the accountability to one another that we can make this thing move as smoothly as possible, especially in the trenches when we are up close and personal.”

[RELATEDHow Jimmy Garoppolo, Trent Williams feel about fan-less games]

The hopes of the NFL being able to carry out an entire season will be contingent on teams reducing the spread of the virus. Oakley has developed a clear plastic face shield designed to block the direct path of droplets while allowing for airflow and soundwaves for communication.

McGlinchey said he will try it out at some point in training camp once helmets are allowed during practices, but he will not switch to the new protective device if he believes it hinders his ability to breathe.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]