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49ers working out two defensive ends, both former top-five draft picks [reports]

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers are up to something. With training camp technically underway, but padded drills and practices not set to begin for at least another week, the team is looking for an EDGE.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the 49ers brought in former fifth overall selection (2013) Dion Jordan, and per Matt Barrows of The Athletic, the team also had Damontre Moore, who played in two games last year before fracturing his forearm, in to visit. Jordan has been a disappointment since 2013, having just 10.5 total sacks and missing the entire 2015 season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

But the biggest name in that unit is Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, the former Pro Bowl pass rusher who went third overall in 2013, who has two stellar seasons under his belt of 14.5 sacks (2015) and 12.0 sacks (2017), both of which came under 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, then with the Detroit Lions. He took a physical and COVID-19 tests with the 49ers, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Ansah has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, playing just 18 games and accruing 6.5 sacks. He played 11 games with the Seattle Seahawks last year.

This talent evaluation at EDGE makes perfect sense. The two positions where depth on this roster are/were most egregiously lacking were tight end (Jordan Reed signed Monday), with just Ross Dwelley, Daniel Helm and Charlie Woerner behind George Kittle, and defensive end.

At defensive end, outside of Nick Bosa, the not-proven-as-reliable Dee Ford, the recovering-from-a-torn-ACL Ronald Blair and Arik Armstead, who only plays on the outside part time, you have Kerry Hyder, a veteran with one 8.0-sack season under Kocurek in 2016, but no season with more than 1.0 sack in the rest of his career, and Alex Barrett, a practice squad guy who was signed, then cut, then re-signed two days later. Maybe Chase Harrell, the undrafted free agent is an option, or pushing Solomon Thomas back outside, where he’s struggled?

If you cringed at the prospect of relying on Ford to be healthy, or forcing Armstead outside on an every-down basis, or even pushing Thomas outside, you’re right to. The 49ers need to add a reliable EDGE presence there before the season starts, and it looks like they’re evaluating their options to do so.


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