The Indianapolis Colts are set to add to the past San Francisco 49ers representation they already have on the defensive line.
Per ESPN NFL insiders Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler on Tuesday, March 14, the AFC South franchise have reached an agreement with defensive end Samson Ebukam on a three-year, $27 million deal. The contract additionally is including $11 million for the first year.
The signing is going to put Ebukam in a defensive line room that features past 49ers star DeForest Buckner, who was a 2020 offseason trade to the AFC South franchise. But the Colts are getting an edge rusher who delivered a breakout 2022, with Next Gen Stats revealing where Ebukam thrived the most on the league’s best defense from last season.
“Ebukam had a breakout season in 2022, generating a 14.8% pressure rate (7th-highest in NFL, min. 300 pass rushes),” NGS revealed on Twitter.
Ebukam also heads to Indy having produced his best sack numbers (five) and tackles for a loss (seven) in his final season in the Bay Area.
Breakdown: What Colts are Getting, Plus What the 49ers are Losing
Ebukam may not be a household name in the NFL’s edge rusher class for this free agency period. He additionally wasn’t considered the second-best defensive lineman on the 49ers nor the most complete.
However, one look at this clip and Colt fans should realize the impact Ebukam brings when aligned opposite of Nick Bosa:
His first step and bull rush is capable of getting a quarterback to think fast, plus get them to move an extra set of steps in the pocket:
And one of the lasting memories 49er fans will have of Ebukam: This sack late in the NFC Divisional round with under three minutes left against the Dallas Cowboys — which was the lone sack of the playoff win.
His addition, which can become official on Wednesday, March 15 when the league begins their 2023 calendar year through the free agency signing period, could help replace last season’s top pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue who’s an unrestricted free agent. But Ebukam’s presence can additionally spark an edge rush room needing more production in the sacks department. Outside of Ngakoue, the edge rushers only produced 15.5 of the team’s 44 sacks. Buckner, as an interior defender, ended up finishing second on the Colts with eight sacks.
As for the 49ers, they’re losing a defender who transitioned from outside linebacker to planting his hand to the ground before snaps and doing damage from there. Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, though, found a way to use Ebukam’s strength to turn the corner, bend at blocks and accelerate to the ball through his high motor. And Ebukam was predominantly a stand-up defender with the Los Angeles Rams and in college at Eastern Washington.
The 49ers are also losing their second best sack leader from the No. 1 ranked unit.
Insider Believed Fellow 49ers UFA Would Command Double-Digit Annual Salary Before Signing
Ebukam is walking into a deal that will pay him $9 million annually. That dollar figure, though, got one 49ers insider believing that there was no way the 49ers would offer that to Ebukam.
“$9 million APY (annaully per year) for Samson Ebukam from the Colts, which is definitely out of the 49ers’ price range for a player whose best pass-rush productivity for them came in late 2021 and not 2022,” 49ers insider for The Athletic David Lombardi said.
But then came this next part from Lombardi — which was a telling prediction for one more unrestricted free agent on the 49ers.
“Based on this, Charles Omenihu might command a double-digit APY,” Lombardi believed.
Sure enough, Omenihu became expected to agree to a two-year, $20 million deal with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs Tuesday night per NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
Before Omenihu, Ebukam became the fifth member of the 49ers defense to reach an agreement on a deal elsewhere. Safety/nickelback Jimmie Ward (Houston), defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (also Houston), cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (Detroit) and outside linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair (Tennessee) were the others who reached agreements outside of S.F. during the league’s legal tampering period between Monday and Tuesday.