Former 49ers Defender Hosted by Packers Before Playoff Game: Report


Getty Members of the San Francisco 49ers defense celebrate a sack during a December 24, 2016 road game against the Los Angeles Rams.

The Green Bay Packers have eight active defensive linemen on the eve of their marquee Saturday showdown with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional round.

But could the Packers add a ninth? On top of that, this player of interest could help add more fuel to this fiery postseason rivalry: He’s an ex-49ers defender.

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Per NFL insider Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 AM in Houston, the Packers received a Monday, January 17 visit from Ronald Blair.

Blair was the only visitor to the Packers’ facility, via Wilson.

Who is Ronald Blair?

Blair is a 28-year-old free agent defensive end from Appalachian State.

He was last seen with the New York Jets and played with former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh — playing in eight total contests and starting in three of those games; recording 28 tackles, 12 solo stops and four tackles for a loss per Pro Football Reference.

One of his better 2021 performances was on November 28, 2021: When he tallied six tackles, four solo stops and one stuffing behind the line of scrimmage in the 21-14 road win. And that stop behind the original yard marker? This sack during the first play of the second quarter.

His final action with the Jets was in the season finale against the Buffalo Bills — when he collected four tackles (two by himself) and one stop behind the line in the 27-10 loss at Highmark Stadium.

But the longest NFL tenure the 6-foot-4, 270-pound edge defender had was with the 49ers.

Blair With the ‘Niners

Blair arrived to the Bay Area before Kyle Shanahan took over as head coach of the ‘Niners.

After winning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2015, he was taken at No. 142 overall in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft — selected by former 49ers head coach Chip Kelly.

Lance Zierlein of once wrote this scouting assessment of Blair before he came to the league:

“He doesn’t have the ability as a pass rusher to excite NFL teams, but his strength at the point of attack and quality tape against Clemson this past season (2015) should not be discounted. Blair is an undersized, rotational base ­end in a 4­-3 who might be able to add extra weight and get a look inside as a three-­technique thanks to his toughness and strength.”

One downside to Blair’s game, though, was that he lacked overall agility and was lacking in conditioning.

Blair didn’t crack the starting lineup in his rookie campaign. However, he saw action in all 16 regular season games and produced three sacks. The signal-callers he sacked that season? Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill (while with the Miami Dolphins) and Jared Goff (while with the Los Angeles Rams).

In 2017, Blair managed to get two starts in, but couldn’t finish out the season after being placed on injured reserve with a leg injury. He had a much healthier 2018, playing in all 16 games and producing a career-high 5.5 sacks. Blair snatched sacks in back-to-back games twice during that season: In games against the Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders from October 28 to November 1 and versus the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos in contests on December 2 and 9.

Blair, however, tore his ACL during the 2019 season and was placed on injured reserve on November 13. Blair was eventually released by the 49ers on March 12, 2021.

In reuniting with Saleh, Blair got placed on the Jets’ practice squad on September 1 and eventually became a roster promotion before the November 14, 2021 game against the Bills at MetLife Stadium.

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