Omenihu, underrated 49ers pickup, strives to crush Cowboys' dreams originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — An under-the-radar 2021 midseason acquisition has paid off in big ways for the 49ers.
The 49ers obtained defensive lineman Charles Omenihu in a trade from the Houston Texans at the deadline last season. All the 49ers had to give up was a sixth-round pick in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
Omenihu, 25, has turned into a key member of the 49ers’ deep and talented defensive line.
And this is another special week for Omenihu. He grew up in Rowlett, 30 miles east of Dallas. Once, like almost everyone else he knows, cheered for the Cowboys.
On Sunday, Omenihu and the 49ers will face the Cowboys in an NFC semifinal game at Levi’s Stadium.
“Your family and everybody supports them, and then you’ve got to go against them and crush their dreams,” Omenihu said. “I like that aspect of it.”
A year ago, Omenihu made his postseason debut against the Cowboys. He registered 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble in the 49ers’ 23-17 victory.
And he showed last week he is back in playoff form. Omenihu registered two sacks and a forced fumble that Nick Bosa recovered that proved to be the key play in the 49ers’ 41-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
It looks like another major mistake by the Texans to get so little in return for Omenihu, who had 1 1/2 seasons remaining on his contract at the time of the trade.
But part of the reason the deal looks so one-sided now is because of how Omenihu has progressed under the 49ers’ coaching and defensive scheme.
“I knew I was coming to a very good organization,” Omenihu said. “I was coming to a D-line that had a reputation of being very, very good. You can’t tell the future, but I”m glad I was traded here, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to come here and be a Niner.”
Bosa recognizes that the player the 49ers acquired in November 2021 has made dramatic improvements in the time since.
“He’s really revamped his preparation,” Bosa said. “He was more of a big interior guy when he came in. The time that’s he’s been here, he’s really bought into the scheme. He’s a really good player for us.”
In the 49ers’ 18 games this season, Omenihu ranks behind only Bosa with 6.5 sacks.
The trade that sent him from the lowly Texans has worked out exceedingly well for him and the 49ers.
Said Omenihu, “It’s a combination of new environment, great coaching, great players around you and just seizing the moment when it comes.”