49ers Defender Visiting Chiefs After Career-Best Season: Report

Arden Key

Getty Arden Key snatches Matt Ryan for the sack during the 49ers' December 19, 2021 home win.

One member of the San Francisco 49ers has been on an AFC tour visit during the week of March 21.

In searching for his next big contract, 49ers edge rusher Arden Key has met with potential employers — notably the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens in the opposite conference. The 49ers’ second-leading rusher with 6.5 sacks last season also began his week visiting the Motor City with the Detroit Lions of the NFC North.

Now, one AFC contender that lost their chance at moving on following a stunning overtime playoff loss is expected to host the 6-foot-5, 240-pound defender who is at the end of his one-year, $1 million deal with S.F.

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Host Team Searching for Defensive Help

Per Field Yates of ESPN, the Kansas City Chiefs are scheduled to host Key on Friday, March 25.

Key has garnered more NFL interest following his career-best campaign of 2021, establishing himself as the 49ers’ second-best pass rusher opposite of Nick Bosa.

Outside of sacks, the former LSU Tiger Key also snatched 22 combined tackles and delivered 36 quarterback pressures.

The Chiefs sent shockwaves throughout the league on Wednesday by trading their prized All-Pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for five draft picks.

Since dealing away “cheetah,” Kansas City has since brought in former Green Bay Packers wideout Marquez Valdes-Scantling — signing him to a three-year deal worth $30 million.

But the Chiefs are also seeking defensive help following their collapse in the AFC championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Kansas City once led 21-3 before falling 24-21 to Cincy.

The franchise resigned defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi on Thursday, March 24. Prior to Nnadi, the AFC West champion added safety Justin Reid via free agency, who was previously with the Houston Texans.

Kansas City, however, still has futures to address with Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu, inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, strong safety Daniel Sorensen and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram — all of whom are free agents still searching for their next NFL home. Of the quartet, Key’s scheduled visit to K.C. could signify that the franchise will allow Ingram — acquired by trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2021 season — may be allowed to walk.

But that’s not the only possible signal involving Key.

49ers Signing May Complicate Future for Key

Written by Heavy’s Evan Reier on Thursday, the 49ers added a familiar face back to the trenches: Kerry Hyder.

The Ex-49er returns after a one-year stint with NFC West rival the Seattle Seahawks, agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with $750,000 guaranteed.

David Lombardi of The Athletic anticipates that Hyder’s re-addition will ignite him in his reunion with Bosa and defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.

However, Hyder’s signing prompted Lombardi’s colleague and fellow 49ers reporter Matt Barrows to reveal the projected defensive line rotation in 2022 — notably leaving out Key:

This now has some around the 49ers believing that Key is very well on his way out.

Should Key sign with the Chiefs, it brings him back to the AFC West. He began his career as a third round draft selection by the Las Vegas Raiders in 2018.

Lombardi is also asking if Hyder’s addition has brought this musical chairs scenario for both edge rushers:

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