49ers Assistant ‘Will Fall in Love’ With 280-Pound DL, Insider Says

Tom Brady

Getty The 49ers pressure Tom Brady on December 11, 2022 in Santa Clara, California.

Bold prediction No. 1: The San Francisco 49ers will kick off the 2023 NFL Draft on April 28 by taking a defensive tackle, as predicted by insider Matt Barrows of The Athletic on Monday, February 20.

Next bold prediction: One popular and prominent assistant coach on the 49ers “will fall in love” with Northwestern 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle Adetomiwa Adebawore, making him the first pick.

While thoughts of Siaki Ika of Baylor has surfaced from The Athletic as a possible first pick option for S.F., the massive 358-pounder could still go higher than No. 99 — especially with CBS Sports calling Ika the second-best defensive tackle for the upcoming draft class. Barrows predicts the smaller but quicker Adebawore will get one defensive assistant to become enamored with him.

“Prediction: Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek will fall in love with Adebawore’s burst,” Barrows began. “He’s the first lineman out of his stance on every snap and uses his 6-foot-2 frame to get beneath the pads of his opponent. He’s not the kind of defensive tackle who can absorb two blockers, and he’s certainly smaller than [D.J.] Jones. But he’s quicker than centers and guards and will be able to penetrate the backfield like the 49ers want.”

Barrows concludes “He also has the terrier-like energy and enthusiasm to match Kocurek’s. He’ll be a teacher’s pet from Day 1.”

Wildcat Once Landed on ‘Freak List’

It’s not the first time the 280-pounder was lauded by someone from The Athletic.

College football insider Bruce Feldman placed him on what’s become a popular list before every football season: Feldman’s “Freak List,” which highlights the most freakish athletes for the upcoming season. Adebawore landed as the 30th-ranked “freak” for the upcoming season with Feldman writing:

“He led Northwestern with 4.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss in 2021. The 6-2, 280-pounder this offseason did 30 reps on the bench at 225. He maxed 410 on the bench and 685 in the squat and 375 power clean. His times also are elite: a 4.05 pro shuttle; a 6.9 3-cone to go with a 10-5 broad jump and a 37.5 vertical jump. His name is pronounced: add-E-TOMMY-wah add-E-BAR-eh; NFL scouts are already practicing it.”

The Northwestern standout earned All-Big 10 honors in his final two collegiate seasons at NU, including making the third team after his senior season. And that was the campaign that saw him shatter his previous best sack mark by getting five for the Wildcats. He delivered other personal bests in total tackles with 38 and stops behind the line of scrimmage with nine.

How Adetomiwa Adebawore Would Fit the 49ers

Ika would be more of a needed space-eater and run stuffer, especially in the wake of watching the 49ers run defense allow four rushing scores in the NFC title game. Adebawore, though, already fits the mold of the kind of trench defenders Kocurek has thrived with: Ones who are undersized but create havoc with their snap explosion — a la past Kocurek pupil D.J. Jones as well as Kerry Hyder, T.Y. McGill and Akeem Spence.

And that quick first step was on display during Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Alabama to help boost Adebawore’s stock, with Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy predicting he’ll be a mismatch as a three-technique:

But before the All-Star game, he blew up a 3rd and one play against College Football Playoff qualifier Ohio State:

And another blow up during a similar scenario against the Buckeyes, but this time lined up as a defensive end:

He clearly doesn’t have the wingspan or length to be an every-down edge rusher in the league. But with that twitchy snap explosion mixed with winning the pad-level battle with his shorter frame, he’s considered a gift to Kocurek and the 49ers if he falls to No. 99 on day two of the draft.

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