In a lot of ways, it makes total sense: NFL players want to join teams that are contending for Super Bowls, which San Francisco certainly expects to. The latest to be interested in joining up in Santa Clara, California?
This is interesting: Former #Seahawks pass-rusher and current free agent Ziggy Ansah is going through a physical and COVID-19 testing with the #49ers, sources say. Nothing is done, but SF gets a first look at a potentially high-end edge talent.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 4, 2020
Ansah, when at his peak, has been one of the NFL’s most prolific and dangerous pass rushers, especially during his time with the Lions, where he earned his sole Pro Bowl nod.
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The Ghanaian-born defensive end came up through Brigham Young University, where he broke out in 2012 after two seasons of learning and providing depth.
However, in that junior season, Ansah went off for 13 total tackles for loss in 13 games played, adding 4.5 sacks and an interception to boot.
With NFL scouts convinced of Ansah’s talent, the defensive end was touted as one of the 2013 NFL Draft’s best prospects, which eventually saw him be drafted by Detroit with the fifth overall pick of that draft.
It did not take long for Ansah to produce once he traded Utah for Michigan, hitting eight sacks as a rookie, forcing 2 fumbles and adding 7tackles for loss.
Initially, Ansah only improved, following up with 7.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and adding 3 forced fumbles in his sophomore campaign.
This was the buildup to the now 31-year-old’s best season, where he racked up 14.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles to earn himself a 2015 Pro Bowl nod and establish himself as a player who can produce at an elite level.
After a down year in 2016, Ansah came back with a vengeance in 2017 with 12 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in just 14 games, missing out on a second Pro Bowl but again showing his talent.
However, his time in Seattle was marred by injury, with the defensive end starting just three games, but still putting up a reasonable 6.5 sacks over 18 games with the Seahawks.
Where Does Ansah Fit?
Anybody who watched the 49ers last season knows that, while players like Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa starred for the defensive line, the depth of positional groups is always imperative to creating a team that can truly go the distance.
Ansah seems like a perfect addition considering that. Even as he was struck down by injuries while in Seattle, the 6.5 sacks over 18 games is a very solid output for a guy that’s not getting the starting nod.
Ansah wouldn’t get that starting nod in Santa Clara, California, which would mean the 49ers wouldn’t have to worry as much about him potentially re-injuring himself, while also putting in an exceptional pass-rusher on plays where the starters need a rest.
Like with tight end Jordan Reed, Ansah will be a low-risk, high-reward type of player that will, at worst, be another decent piece on the depth chart, or potentially provide an immense value as a player that can get after the quarterback in situations where the 49ers need to give their defensive ends a rest.
Evan Reier is a sportswriter covering the San Francisco 49ers for Heavy.com and local sports for the Montana Standard in Butte, Mont. Reach out to him on Twitter at @evanreier and join our 49ers community at Heavy on 49ers on Facebook.