49ers Add ‘Body Beautiful’ Draft Bust on Make-Good Contract

49ers CB Rock-Ya-Sin

Getty 49ers CB Rock-Ya-Sin

It was only five years ago that Rock Ya-Sin was a surprise second-round pick out of Temple, having started his career as a humble defensive back for the FCS program Presbyterian College. He had 12 passes defended and two interceptions in his one 12-game season at Temple, and left enough of an impression to warrant being the No. 34 overall pick, selected two spots ahead of 49ers star Deebo Samuel.

But Ya-Sin’s career has never really caught on in the NFL, as he has struggled to stay healthy and has not been a particularly productive cover man. He played three seasons in Indianapolis before he was dealt to the Raiders for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

The Raiders let him walk in free agency to Baltimore last year, where he played 14 games but appeared in only 29% of the team’s defensive snaps.

Now, the 49ers have taken him on, giving him a one-year contract at a bargain price of $1.3 million, part of a lengthy tradition the 49ers have of bringing in highly touted players who need a career reset. Ya-Sin may have talent, but he struggled to show it last season, when he allowed a 112.6 passer rating when he was targeted, per Pro Football Reference.

Rock Ya-Sin Had Some Draft Hype

Ya-Sin came into the NFL with some fanfare. At NFL.com, his scouting report read:

“Body-beautiful cornerback with good size and potential, but just one year of FBS football experience. Ya-Sin needs technique work across the board, but the ability to handle the duties of the position are all in place and waiting to be unlocked. He has the strength, toughness and feet to go from shadowing presence to a more disruptive one as a press-man corner.”

The addition of Ya-Sin is a small tinkering that comes as part of a larger attempt to overhaul the 49ers defense without a major expenditure. The team reconfigured its defensive line with the departure of Arik Armstead, who turned down a chance to stay at a reduced salary, and added beefy linemen Maliek Collins and Jordan Elliott.

The 49ers also added ends Yetur Gross-Matos and Leonard Floyd, who will replace the departed Chase Young and Randy Gregory.

In addressing the hole at linebacker as starter Dre Greenlaw recovers from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the Super Bowl, the 49ers opted to bring in Packers veteran De’Vondre Campbell, who began his career in Atlanta, when coach Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator.

At one year, $5 million, Campbell has the potential to be a bargain signing, much like Ya-Sin. The 49ers offseason has been productive as far as dealing with the team’s issues on defense, but scraping together cap space as the team attempts to sign star receiver Brandon Aiyuk to a new contract remains an unaddressed priority.

49ers Defensive Overhaul Starts at the Top

Of course, the major issue the 49ers addressed was the disconnect between the team’s defensive coordinator—veteran coach Steve Wilks—and the rest of the coaching staff. Shanahan was accused of scapegoating Wilks after the Super Bowl loss, by firing him after just one year, but it was clear throughout the season that the two were not on the same page.

Nick Sorensen was promoted to DC, and former Chargers coach Brandon Staley was added as an assistant.

“Nick’s going to call the plays; Brandon will be a big part of the game plans,” Shanahan said, per The Athletic. “(Staley) has been a big part of free agency already. Knows a lot of ball, has run a lot of schemes — happy that he’s part of ours now.

“I was just pumped to be able to get Brandon. I was hoping to stay in-house and do what we had done in the past on defense. But being able to get Brandon (on top of that) was huge.”

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