The 49ers' Offseason Addition Nobody is Talking About
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
The 49ers' offseason has been nothing short of great business. As of March 18th (when I'm writing this), John Lynch has retained Kyle Juszczyk, re-signed Trent Williams to a record-setting deal, kept Jason Verrett in the Bay, signed Center Alex Mack, and re-signed D.J Jones. It seems like the 49ers' front office went into the offseason with a smart and financial plan and followed it exactly. Barring a few drunk FaceTime calls and tweets between Jed York, John Lynch, and Kyle Juszczyk, the 49ers' fanbase should be feeling ecstatic at this year's offseason moves.
Among the many new players who may be returning or newly joining the 49ers in the upcoming 2020-2021 season, Samson Ebukam seems to be one of the most underrated signing so far.
The 49ers signed Ebukam to a two-year deal worth up to $13.5 million. The contract includes a signing bonus of $3.5M, $500k roster bonuses each year, and $5M guaranteed at signing. The 49ers, considering the cap situation this year, decided to backload the former Ram's contract. He'll make $1.5M in the first year and $5.9 in the second year, while carrying a cap hit of $4M the first year and $8M the second year.
When I first saw the news from NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, I wasn't totally gushing at the idea of adding some no-name rusher. I immediately asked myself, "Samson who?" But, as I researched and watched some of his film, I liked the idea more and more.
Ebukam is a pass-rushing outside linebacker who was drafted by the Rams in the 4th round. He's a situational player who usually plays on 3rd downs. He doesn't get a lot of snaps because players like Leonard Floyd and Justin Hollins take the starting jobs at outside linebacker. Nevertheless, he's a fast, versatile, and electric player in the pass-rush game.
I wanted to get to know the former Eastern Michigan player a little more. So, as any curious football fan and free-lance writer would do, I researched his stats.
According to SIS Data Hub, the Nigerian native had a 17.7% pressure rate, a 2.9% sack rate, a 7.7% hurry rate, and a 5.8% hit rate last season.
Ebukam's pressure rate (17.7%) among linebackers ranked 5th. That's higher than Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Barrett.
His sack rate (2.9%) among linebackers (min. 150 rushes) ranked 5th. That's higher ranking than notable players like Shaq Barrett, Za'Darius Smith, Brian Burns, and Khalil Mack.
His hurry rate (7.7%) among linebackers ranked 8th. That's higher than players like T.J Watt and Bradley Chubb.
His hit rate (5.8%) among linebackers ranked just outside the top 20.
So, as I looked as these stats, I came to the conclusion that this guy is not some "no-name pass rusher" like I thought when I saw the Twitter notification.
Almost all of his advanced stats are in the top 10. I'm not saying he's a top-ten rusher by any means. He's not and probably won't be a for a while. But, I do think he has the potential to make a bigger difference on the Niners than everyone is estimating.
Other than the surprising stats, I wanted to take a look at the film. I watched both of the 49ers-Rams games and their second meeting last season had my eyes popping with excitement. Let's dive into it.
Samson (#50) is lined up on the far right of the D Line. Ross Dwelley motions over and lines up right in front of Samsun. As Mullens hands the ball off for an inside-zone run, Ebukam shoves Dwelley over and makes a very athletic tackle to bring the ball carrier, Raheem Mostert, down.
2. Samson (#50) is lined up on the top of the D line in the first clip, and on the far left of the D line in the second clip. He goes head-to-head against star LT Trent Williams. Samsun pushes Trent Williams all the way into the back of the pocket and makes an athletic move to put pressure on QB Nick Mullens. His pressure leads to a poor incomplete pass on 3rd down.
3. Again, Samson (#50) will be lined up on the top of the D line in the first clip, and on the far left in the second clip. The 49ers use tight ends on almost every formation so with George Kittle out this game, Ross Dwelley takes the majority of the blocking snaps at TE. Samsun takes advantage of the matchup and shoves Dwelley aside with no regard. He makes an electric jolt towards the QB, wasting no time, and makes a clean, big hit at Nick Mullens.
4. Samson (#50) at the same spot as always: top of the D line (1st clip) and left of D line (2nd clip). He doesn't make a play that shows up on the stat sheet, but this clip reveals his speed and versatility as he can put pressure on both sides of the offensive line in one play.
5. Ebukam (#50) is lined up on the top of the D line in the first clip and on the left of the D line in the second clip. He lines up across RT Mike McGlinchey and bull rushes him all the way into the heart of the pocket and right up to the QB. He has great awareness as he reaches up with his right arm and deflects the pass.
6. Ebukam (#50) lined up against LT Trent Williams, who just became the highest-paid offensive lineman in football history. Samsun runs Williams all the way to the QB while putting him on his heels. He makes a strong, athletic move with his arm to try and grab the QB but Mullens evades the pressure and the 49ers only gain a few yards. He makes Williams fall down.
7. Ebukam (#50) is again lined up against Trent Williams. He makes an electric and strong push into the pocket. His pass rush is so strong that the highest paid LT in NFL history diverts his pass protection to committing a holding penalty. Samsun can physically and mentally wear down an offensive line.
After watching the film, it's no secret why the 49ers sought out Samson Ebukam. He makes the 49ers' offensive line look amateur. Trent Williams was falling down, McGlinchey looked clueless, and Mullens was being pressured by Ebukam on almost all of his reps.
In conclusion, I think it's a great find and I think Samson has the ability to make a great and underrated impact on the 49ers' pass rush.