Fans of the San Francisco 49ers have been clamoring for new faces in the secondary this offseason. It’s understandable considering the number of free agents who represent the cornerback and safety spot to go along with the ones who need a clear change of scenery.
But what about one other area that’s facing being hit hard come March 16?
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While the 49ers‘ defensive strength was their pass rush during their run to the NFC title game, plus while Nick Bosa is likely heading for a big payday, the ‘Niners still face three free agent questions:
One: What to do with second-leading rusher Arden Key, who is an unrestricted free agent?
Two: Can the franchise also keep D.J. Jones and his salary of $3.5 million?
Three: Who else can they keep among names like Maurice Hurst, Jordan Willis, Kentavius Street, etc.?
Regardless, this 49ers rotation will look completely different in 2022. However, if there’s room, the 49ers were called “a perfect marriage” for one decorated pass rusher and Pro Bowl performer who will be upcoming free agent.
Why 49ers are ‘Perfect Marriage’
Arjun Menon of Pro Football Focus revamped their listings of top landing spots for 50 free agents on Monday, February 21.
And Menon has PFF’s No 24 ranked free agent heading to the 49ers: Melvin Ingram.
Here’s why the 32-year-old edge rusher and three-time Pro Bowler is linked to the 49ers:
“Ingram didn’t have a good first half of the season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but everything changed when he was traded to the Chiefs, as he helped turn around a poor pass rush. From Week 9 on, he recorded 33 pressures and an 82.3 PFF grade.”
But why is the 49ers considered the perfect pairing for the veteran?
“Joining the 49ers would be a perfect marriage for Ingram, as he would be on a contender while the 49ers add onto their impressive defensive line.”
No doubt that Ingram will be going to a loaded defense that features Pro Bowlers like Bosa, Arik Armstead and linebacker Fred Warner. But what would the projected contract look like and what would be his value?
What the 49ers Would Face
Ingram was initially signed to a one-year deal with the Steelers worth $4 million, which also included a $2,925,000 signing bonus.
However, once he got shipped away to the Chiefs, the franchise went on to take on a base salary of $597,222 according to Spotrac. The Steelers had void years available for Ingram — which helped their salary cap situation.
While Ingram is up in his years, plus past his period of producing seven to 10.5 sacks from 2015 to 2019, Ingram can still contribute when called upon, proven here versus the Denver Broncos:
The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder can also obliterate single blocks in pursuit to the quarterback. Here’s a sample of his grown man strength:
Plus another on a straight bull rush.
Despite the fact that Ingram only recorded one sack in a Chiefs uniform, he still commanded attention for igniting discomfort in the opposing pocket:
Finally, Ingram delivered his first postseason sack since January 6, 2019 in the overtime thriller over the Buffalo Bills.
Because of his age and value, the 49ers do have the luxury of not signing Ingram for the long term. Menon and PFF has Ingram signing a one-year, $8 million deal with the ‘Niners with $6.5 million guaranteed.
But through the secondary concerns, placing Ingram with a fierce rush that already has Bosa, Armstead and possibly Key and Jones back on board has got to be a scary sight for teams that have to prepare for the 49ers. It could be an opportunity that’s too good to pass up for S.F.