The 49ers figure to take their time easing defensive end Nick Bosa back into the kind of workload he was assigned during his rookie season.
The club opens training camp next week in Santa Clara, and Bosa will return to the field after missing the final 14 games of last season with a torn ACL.
Bosa will receive a lot of attention during his comeback. And once the games begin, he will be the one pass-rusher opposing offenses scheme against.
And that is why there will be a lot of pressure to perform on the defensive end on the other side of the 49ers’ line.
The 49ers targeted edge rusher Samson Ebukam in free agency to take on that role. The 49ers signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract.
He takes on the role that Dee Ford was supposed to fill during the past two seasons.
Ford still is on the 49ers' roster, but there are no guarantees due to a troublesome back condition. It is anybody’s guess if Ford can get back on the field, be productive and remain on the field for the duration of the season.
Ebukam, who registered 4.5 sacks in each of the past two seasons, started 35 games for the Los Angeles Rams while playing in every game over his four-year career.
The 49ers are relying on Ebukam to remain durable. They also are relying on him to take a significant step forward as a pass rusher.
He has the physical attributes to get there. Now, he just needs to make significant improvements on the finer points of his game.
“I know I’m not a technician,” Ebukam said upon signing with the 49ers in March. “It’s just the effort and being relentless and always finding a way to always get to the quarterback.
“That’s what I really enjoy is getting to the quarterback and taking him down. It stops the whole momentum for everything the offense is doing. So I think that’s the No. 1 thing, a high motor.”
Ebukam (pronounced EH-boo-kahm) must be productive enough as a pass-rusher to take some heat off Bosa. He will face a lot of offensive tackles in one-on-one pass-rush situations. And if he is unable to take advantage of those matchups, it will have a negative impact on Bosa, too.
If Ebukam does not provide a legitimate threat as a pass-rusher, teams can simply load up their protection to make things even more difficult on Bosa this season.