Cassius Marsh

49ers DE Cassius Marsh blasts his time with Patriots: 'It was B.S. things they were doing'


49ers DE Cassius Marsh blasts his time with Patriots: 'It was B.S. things they were doing'

After claiming him off waivers in November last season, the 49ers have shown love and loyalty to defensive end Cassius Marsh. 

In his six games with the 49ers, Marsh's playing time significantly increased. In the NFL Draft, the team shied away from pass rushers thanks to Marsh's presence. 

The 25-year-old never felt this kind of love from his previous team, the New England Patriots. 

“They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying?" Marsh said Saturday to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.”

Marsh is speed rusher off the edge. In New England, they wanted him to shy away from his strengths and be a completely different player. 

"They asked me to do a bunch of stuff that I had never done: covering running backs and receivers and basically almost never rushing the passer, which is what I did in playing defensive line,” Marsh said.

The Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to acquire Marsh from the Seahawks in September of last year, signaling the team expected a big role. But Marsh's career as a Patriot ended after nine games with him playing just snaps in his final contest with the team. 

“I confronted (Belichick) about all the things that were going on,” Marsh said. “I won’t get into detail, but it was B.S. things they were doing. I just wasn’t a fan. And so I, basically, without asking to get cut, I kind of asked to get cut.

"I had confidence that I would have an opportunity elsewhere and I would take advantage of it.”

And take advantage of it he did. Marsh recorded two sacks and forced two fumbles in his six games as a 49ers. 

“Hopefully I’ll be a Niner forever," Marsh said. 

In February, the 49ers rewarded him with a two-year, $7.7 million contract extension. 

49ers will look internally for upgraded pass rush


49ers will look internally for upgraded pass rush

The collection of edge rushers in the 2018 NFL draft was not an impressive group.

It was clear the 49ers did not believe there were many upgrades over what they already had on their roster. The club did not address one of their biggest needs at any point over the three-day, seven-round draft.

“Those guys are difficult to find, first and foremost,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We felt like there were a couple guys who had an opportunity to be special there. Just where we were, we didn't have an opportunity or chose not to take them.”

Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan expressed faith that the 49ers can develop an improved pass rush with the players already on the roster. Shanahan mentioned Cassius Marsh and Arik Armstead. The group also includes DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair, Jeremiah Attaochu, Eli Harold and Pita Taumoepenu.

“We'd love to get a Von Miller, but you only get eight up on game day and you only get nine on our roster,” Shanahan said. “You've got to be pretty good to beat out Marsh. You’ve got to be pretty good to beat out Armstead. You don't just get guys. If you get them, someone else has got to get cut and we’ve got a pretty good group.”

Marsh caught wind of Shanahan’s endorsement. The words meant a lot to a player whom Seattle traded and New England cut.

Marsh wrote on social media:
”This right here gave me chills and almost brought tears to my eyes. To go from never feeling appreciated and having to prove myself every single day. To knowing my Coaching staff and GM have my back and trust my work ethic and talent is an indescribable feeling. I am so grateful but never satisfied! I will never lose this chip on my shoulder and will continue to grind every single day. Because in the league, any day could be your last!

The 49ers are scheduled to hold their rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday. There will be a lot fewer players on the field than a year ago. Also, there will be a lot fewer opportunities for draft picks and undrafted rookies to earn roster spots.

Former general manager Trent Baalke left the roster in such shambles that any young player with a choice wanted to come to the 49ers because it offered an easier chance at landing on an NFL roster.

“We're definitely happier that it's going to be a bigger challenge this year,” Shanahan said.

Said Lynch, ““I'm chuckling because last year, the land of opportunity got a little out of control. I think we had 85 at our rookie mini-camp, our tryout camp.”

Lynch mentioned safety Chancellor James and offensive lineman Richard Levy as players who earned rookie contract as tryout players. This year, the 49ers will be a little more selective about the players invited to try out.

“We did a lot of favors last year, I think,” Lynch said. “ ’This guy was my roommate in college and his cousin's son kind of has a shot at being in the NFL.’ They were here.”

Twelve undrafted rookies reportedly have deals to sign with the 49ers, according to various reports.

Offense: RB Jeffery Wilson (North Texas); WR Steven Dunbar (Houston); TE Ross Dwelley (San Diego); OT Jamar McGloster (Syracuse); C Alan Knott (South Carolina); and C Coleman Shelton, (Washington).

Defense: DE Patrick Choudja (Nevada); DT Niles Scott (Frostburg State); CB Tarvarus McFadden (Florida State); CB Emmanuel Moseley (Tennessee); DB Corey Griffin (Georgia Tech); and S Terrell Williams (Houston).

Lynch denied the 49ers were looking to trade offensive tackle Trent Brown on Thursday night – shortly after the 49ers selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with their first-round pick. But, truth be told, both Lynch and Shanahan looked completely uncomfortable with the line of questioning.

“Yeah, my fingers were crossed (Thursday) night when I was talking to you,” Lynch said a day later. “I did say, “Never say never.’ We had agreed in principle. But part of these deals, you've got to see them through and, obviously, there was an injury and he had to go pass a physical.”

The 49ers did not envision Brown as a long-term member of the organization due to concerns about his work ethic, physical conditioning, inconsistent film study and execution of his assignments. A club source told NBC Sports Bay Area that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is fully aware of why the 49ers decided to trade him rather than seek a contract extension.

The 49ers wanted more depth on their defensive line at the positions described as “big end” and “three technique.” That is why the club used two draft picks to address the need.

The 49ers spent a fourth-round pick on North Carolina State’s Kentavius Street, who recently tore an ACL while working out for the New York Giants and likely will not be available until 2019. Temple’s Jullian Taylor was picked up in the seventh round.

The 49ers could use that depth a year from now. The 49ers have not yet given an indication whether they plan to exercise the fifth-year option in 2019 on defensive lineman Arik Armstead, a first-round pick in 2015. The deadline is Thursday. The one-year price tag for Armstead on the fifth-year option is $9 million. The 49ers also have a decision on guard Laken Tomlinson, whose fifth-year option salary would be $9.6 million.

In the days leading up to the first round, draft analyst Tony Pauline reported the 49ers coveted linebacker Tremaine Edmunds for the No. 9 overall pick. A day later, he reported the 49ers were also high on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

As it turns out, the 49ers’ top two choices were McGlinchey and, likely, safety Derwin James.

Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area that three interviews stood out among the many players with whom the 49ers talked. Those players were McGlinchey, James and running back Sony Michel. Lynch indicated it was difficult for the team to pass up James with the No. 9 overall selection.

“Derwin James was just phenomenal,” Lynch said. “That was a hard one because he’s special in his presence, let alone his play."

Why the 49ers may need to look in-house to fill pass-rush need


Why the 49ers may need to look in-house to fill pass-rush need

INDIANAPOLIS -- The 49ers do not appear confident they can fill their massive need at pass rusher with someone who is currently not on the team’s roster.

After all, pass rushers are becoming more and more like quarterbacks. There are few – if any -- sure things in the draft. And once a team gets a good one, they rarely let him go.

General manager John Lynch revealed the 49ers spent a lot of time last year working on scheduled free agents Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul. Those pass-rushers never made it to the open market, as the Cardinals, Chargers and Giants utilized their franchise tags before reaching long-term extensions.

The Detroit Lions have already taken Ezekiel Ansah off the market with the franchise tag, and the Dallas Cowboys have signaled their intention to retain DeMarcus Lawrence, too.

“A big focus for us is to tap into that ability we already have,” Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The 49ers need plenty of help for a defense that ranked tied for 26th in the league with just 30 sacks. The organization feels as if it has already added three pass-rushers they did not have for the entire 2017 season.

Cassius Marsh: A fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, Marsh did not register the first sack of his NFL career until his third season. He was shipped to New England in a trade last year, but the Patriots cut him after he’d played in just nine games.

In six games with the 49ers, Marsh recorded two sacks and quickly surpassed Aaron Lynch on the team’s depth chart. John Lynch said he believes Marsh fit well into the 49ers’ defense at the Leo position. The club signed him to a two-year extension last month that will pay up to $7.7 million with $3.1 million guaranteed.

“He played well for us,” John Lynch said. “When guys play well and we can see a future for him, we’re going to do our best to sign him and we did a deal that I thought was fair for him and fair for us.

“Now it’s incumbent upon him, just like every other player, to go make that happen. But we’re pleased to have him a part of us, moving forward.”

Pita Taumoepenu: The 49ers really like Taumoepenu, whom the club selected in sixth round of last year’s draft. But you might not know it, because he suited up for only two games as a rookie. Taumoepenu continued to work hard behind the scenes last season, and the 49ers took notice of the improvements he made as the season progressed.

“Sometimes people read into the fact that he wasn’t getting active, that he wasn’t making progress,” Lynch said. “He progressed tremendously. We’re really excited about him. We remain excited about his opportunities.”

Eli Harold: There is little evidence that Harold can fill a void in the 49ers’ defense with his pass-rush ability. He played the strong-side linebacker position and typically came off the field on third downs.

But the 49ers have reason to believe Harold can be an asset as a pass rusher. The belief within the organization is that Harold has one great pass-rush move and he just needs to refine his arsenal to become a major factor.

“We think Eli has some skills,” Lynch said. “We felt like he made great progress at Sam linebacker spot, but we do believe he has some rush ability that’s untapped. We have to tap it. We’re going to give him that ability.”

The 49ers will continue to give the pass rushers from the current draft class a hard look. The problem is there do not seem to be many good options.

Here is a look at the group considered to be the top four options at the 49ers’ edge-rusher position:

Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State
Size: 6-4, 269
Speed: 4.65 seconds
Strength: 24 reps (bench press)

The only problem in analyzing Chubb’s potential fit with the 49ers is that he is expected to be long gone by the time the 49ers go on the clock with their first pick in the draft. The Indianapolis Colts – or any team outside the top three – could target Chubb.

He has it all, winning the Hendricks and Bronko Nagurski awards as college football’s best defensive end and best defender. He had 26 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in his final college season.

Chubb described himself: “Just high motor, high energy, passionate, just a guy who’s going to get after their quarterback, get after the guy with the ball. Whoever has the ball in their hands, I’m running down 50 yards down the field just to get that ball.”

Harold Landry, Boston College
Size: 6-3, 252
Speed: 4.64 seconds
Strength: 24 reps (bench press)

The 49ers were the first team to sit down with Landry for a formal, 15-minute interview. It is not out of the question they could call his name with the No. 9 overall pick.

“I would definitely love to play with the 49ers and their defense,” Landry said. “Meeting with their coaches — great coaches, great guys and it would be an honor to go to San Fran and play for them.”

After recording 16.5 sacks in 2016, an ankle injury limited his effectiveness. He still recorded five sacks

“I think that nobody in this class has a first step like mine, the bend like mine and the burst to the quarterback like me,” Landry said. “I am not saying I am perfect. There are plenty of things I can improve on in my game, but in this draft I do believe I am the best pass rusher.”

Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
Size: 6-6, 264
Speed: 4.58 seconds
Strength: 22 reps (bench press)

Davenport is probably not the exact fit the 49ers need as an outside pass rusher. He has immense physical ability, but he is raw, did not play against top-flight competition, and might not have the acceleration to get around the edge.

But there is one thing he does that fits what defensive coordinator Robert Saleh envisions. Saleh has repeatedly stated desire for “extreme violence” from his players.

“I think I’m real violent,” Davenport said at the combine. “I think that’s a real attribute that I have.”

Arden Key, LSU
Size: 6-6, 238
Speed: Did not run
Strength: Did not lift

There is no questioning Key’s physical skills, but there’s plenty other elements that could make teams reluctant to invest heavily in his future. He played primarily in a 3-4 scheme, but his pass-rushes came in a three-point stance.

Key left the LSU program in the spring of 2017 for personal reasons. He came back approximately 30 pounds overweight. Why? He said he ate too much.

He said of his meetings with teams, “Just to be in there, explain myself to them, just explaining to people who I am and what I went through. I’m past that and I’m still standing, and I’m still here.”

When asked what he went through, Key answered, “No comment.”