In not even 30 games, Clelin Ferrell was given this title by Sportsnaut on September 13, 2021: “Draft bust.”
It became easy to see why the former No. 4 overall pick received the criticism — with only 6.5 sacks through 26 games and underwhelming the Las Vegas Raiders as a pass rusher.
However, the San Francisco 49ers saw enough to become convinced to hand him a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with $1.82 million guaranteed. And, in talking to the Bay Area media on Thursday, March 16 for the first time since his official signing, Ferrell fired off a series of stirring messages including this one: He doesn’t think he’s tapped into his potential just yet and has time to develop it.
“I think for me, I really just fell in love with the way that they play defense here,” Ferrell first began (h/t 49ers Webzone). “I think, being here, I’m really just buying in. I have an open mind to whatever Coach Kris [Kocurek] has for me because, regardless of the fact, I’m still a very young player, and I still have a lot of time to develop it, and I really don’t think I’ve tapped into my potential. So I’m just coming in with an open mind, and I’m really excited, ready to hit the ground running.”
Ferrell Already Familiar With Some 49ers Trench Defenders
Turns out this won’t be the first time Ferrell will be in the same room with Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa — the two more heralded defensive linemen on the Niners.
He developed a relationship with both before their NFL careers took off. He’s trained with both defenders as well as former 49ers Solomon Thomas (2017 draft pick) and former 49ers interior defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Those relationships helped ease Ferrell’s comfort in deciding on the Niners.
“Basically, really, having good friends and having good relationships from guys around the league that have told me good things about [the team], and kind of just reassured everything that I had to hear about Coach Kris or Coach [Kyle] Shanahan, or even [general manager] John Lynch upstairs,” Ferrell said. “So I think that that relationship is what I’ve really honed in on, for sure. Just really trusting my guys. So understanding that those relationships are things that have kind of carried me through, a little bit of guidance through this process, for sure.”
He also took notice of how his former Raiders teammate Arden Key saw a career renaissance when he came over to the Bay Area, saying he takes heed to looking back at his and others’ history of becoming impactful under Kocurek and the 49ers.
Ferrell Explains Why he Hates the Word ‘Potential’
Ferrell admits there a word he hates, which was a word he still used in his introductory presser.
“I hate that word potential because I hate talking about it,” Ferrell said. “But definitely, regardless of the fact, I think you just want progression.”
Ferrell dove deeper, explaining: “It wasn’t about whether I feel like I could progress here and not anywhere else. It was really more, which way did I feel like it was going to make me progress in the way that I feel like would have been the best benefit for the team I’m playing for?” he asked. “And I feel like my skill set, specifically, it just fits the identity and the culture of this team.”
The former No. 4 overall pick of the 2019 draft is already ready to shed the “draft bust” label some have plastered onto him. And he’s on a defense that’s “led the charge” on playing good defense featuring an aggressive style of defensive line play.