49ers Fortify Defense By Signing Former Second Round Pick

Kemoko Turay, San Francisco 49ers

Getty Kemoko Turay rushing for the San Francisco 49ers.

For the third time this season, the San Francisco 49ers have signed Kemoko Turay, the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 second-round pick, to a contract, this time on the practice squad.

Initially selected out of Rutgers with the 52nd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Turay originally signed with the Niners on April 14th, two weeks before the 2022 running of the NFL draft, and was with the team until August 30th, when he was released in the team’s trim down to 53. From there, he signed to the practice squad and was eventually elevated to the active roster, but his run with the team was short-lived, as he logged just one tackle in 42 defensive snaps split over three games and was released on November 26th the day before the team’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

In order to bring back Turay, the 49ers have released cornerback Ka’dar Hollman, who became a luxury when John Lynch signed former Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who last played for the Tennessee Titans but is probably best known for his run with the New York Giants from 2016-19.

Will Turay make it back onto the field for the 49ers this season? Only time will tell, but if he does, he should certainly have plenty of experience in Demeco Ryans’ scheme, as he’s been with the 49ers for the better part of seven months with only a few days off in between.

Kemoko Turay Hasn’t Lived Up To His Initial Pre-Draft Expectations

Coming out of college, Turay was supposed to be an explosive edge rusher who could blow past tackles, bowl over blocking running backs, and ultimately bring down opposing quarterbacks at a high enough clip to remain on the field more often than not.

Unfortunately, that never materialized.

Despite being relatively raw at his position, the Colts drafted Turay in the second round and worked him into their edge rushing rotation, but he never quite took the step forward needed to become a full-time starter. Over four seasons, Turay appeared in 38 games with three starts and was able to rack up 33 tackles, 29 QB hits, and 12 sacks. Though his final season in Indianapolis was better than all but his rookie year, picking up a career-high 5.5 sacks over 224 snaps, the Colts allowed him to test the open market, where he signed with the Niners on a one-year, $1.7 million contract with $1 million guaranteed, according to 49erscap.com.

Omenihu Has Been Everything The San Francisco 49ers Wanted

Though they technically don’t fill the same role in Ryan’s defense, Charles Omenihu has provided the pass-rushing pop that the 49ers were hoping for, recording 14 tackles, 13 QB hits, and four sacks as the Niners’ first defensive end off the bench behind starters Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam.

Despite drafting a certified fastball off the edge in USC’s Drake Jackson, Omenihu has proven an effective all-around defensive lineman capable of setting a hard edge on early downs and kicking it inside on obvious passing downs to provide some additional pass rushing pop without the need to be as concerned about run defense in the same way Arik Armstead has been used throughout his career.

Set to hit the free agent market in March of 2023, Omenihu has more than lived up to the expectations Lynch had when he acquired the former fifth-round pick out of Texas midway through the 2021 season, even if it took some time for him to get acclimated to Ryan’s system. If his strong play continues, Omenihu is headed for a payday much higher than the one the 49ers gave to Turay in April.

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