Even on gameday of Week 1, the San Francisco 49ers are making moves to get better.
According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapaport, the 49ers are bringing former Seattle Seahawk and Detroit Lions pass rusher Ziggy Ansah back to Santa Clara, California for preliminary COVID-19 testing and a workout that should be happening early next week.
Help on the way for the #49ers? Sources say free-agent Ziggy Ansah, one of the top pass-rushers available, will be in SF today, going through COVID-19 testing in preparation for a workout Tuesday. His second visit to the #49ers, a sign of their interest.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 13, 2020
As Rapaport mentions, Ansah’s second visit with the 49ers is a sign that the team is not just considering the 2015 Pro Bowler, but are monitoring him as the season gets under way.
While the defensive line is arguably the best overall group on the San Francisco roster, it’s also an area that can never be improved enough, which is why the team is likely looking to add Ansah early in the season.
While Ansah hasn’t made the noise he made about a half-decade ago, the talented defensive end is still looking to play, and could add something to the 49ers in a limited role.
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Ansah’s Highs and Lows
Born in Ghana, Ansah honed his skills at Brigham Young University, where the defensive end broke out in 2012 after two seasons of developing.
In his third season in Utah, Ansah racked up 13 total tackles for loss in 13 games played, adding 4.5 sacks and an interception to boot.
While not necessarily jaw-dropping numbers, it became clear that the pass-rusher had immense raw potential, which saw him become one of the highest-touted players in the 2015 NFL Draft, eventually going as the fifth overall pick to the Lions.
Ansah adapted fairly quickly to the NFL and Detroit, hitting eight sacks as a rookie, forcing 2 fumbles and adding 7 tackles for loss, which Ansah followed with 7.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles in his sophomore campaign.
His first two seasons with the Lions were a trailer for 2015, where the 31-year-old totaled 14.5 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 4 forced fumbles to earn himself a Pro Bowl spot as he became one of the NFL’s high-profiled pass rushers.
Two seasons later, Ansah had another monster year with with 12 sacks in 14 games, but didn’t get as much recognition as his 2015 season.
Moving on from Detroit, the defensive end linked up with Seattle, but was consistently held back by injury issues and never quite reached the heights he hit in 2015 and 2017, but did make good on 6.5 sacks over 18 games as a Seahawk.
Ansah’s Role with the 49ers
If San Francisco decides that Ansah is a guy they need to keep around for the 2020 season, it will be as a player that can come in, give either Dee Ford or Nick Bosa a rest and still have a decent chance of producing.
These types of additions and players are what separates Super Bowl contenders from the teams that may make the playoffs, but lack the depth required to be competitive on every play and every game.
Ansah may not have the production and electrifying athleticism he had in his younger years, but he should be more than capable of providing some bonus sacks and disruption while the 49ers lead rushers get a breather.
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.