The 49ers’ defensive line might be the strength of the team. But they are looking for even more from their outside pass rush.
The 49ers reportedly have visits planned for veteran edge rushers Ezekiel Ansah and Dion Jordan. Both players entered the NFL as first-round draft picks in 2013 and are being considered to add depth along the 49ers' D-line.
General manager John Lynch wants to provide some insurance to the outside pass rush.
Nick Bosa and Dee Ford are the 49ers’ top edge rushers. While Arik Armstead plays defensive end in base situations, he is more effective working inside as a nickel pass-rusher.
Ronald Blair, who could be the team’s No. 3 defensive end in passing situations, is working back from a torn ACL. Blair currently is on the active/physically-unable-to-perform list. The 49ers likely were able to re-sign him because the knee injury greatly influenced his market as a free agent.
After Bosa, Ford and Blair, the 49ers do not have a lot of answers.
Kerry Hyder, whom the 49ers signed as a free agent in the offseason, is the only other veteran outside pass rusher on the team. Hyder had 8.0 sacks with the Detroit Lions in 2016 while working with current 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. But in Hyder’s other 26 NFL games, he has just 2.0 sacks.
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Kocurek also has a history with Ansah, 31, whom the Lions selected at No. 5 overall in 2013. Ansah had a career-best 14.5 sacks in 2015 and 12.0 sacks in 2017, but injuries have impacted his career. He registered 2.5 sacks with the Seattle Seahawks in 11 games last season.
Jordan was the No. 3 overall pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2013, but his career was derailed by off-field issues.
He did not play in 2015 and 2016 after a third violation of the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy. The Dolphins released him in 2017, and he signed with the Seahawks. He was suspended for 10 weeks last season for using Adderall.
In 50 career games, Jordan has 10.5 sacks. He played seven games with the Raiders last season and posted 2.0 sacks.
The 49ers visited with Damontre Moore last week, who was among the team’s final cuts last year. San Francisco re-signed Moore after Blair’s injury, but Moore sustained a fractured forearm in his second game with the club.
The 49ers owned the top pass defense in the league last season, and a lot of the team's success can be traced to their pass rush. They tied for fifth in the NFL with 48 sacks during the regular season.
The pass rush took a hit in the offseason with the decision to trade defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for a first-round draft pick. Buckner registered 19.5 sacks over the past two seasons. The 49ers used their first-round draft pick to select Buckner's replacement, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw.
While Kinlaw is expected to step in and be an immediate force against the run, it might take a while to develop his pass-rush skills. He registered a total of 10.0 sacks during his final two seasons of college.