Potential 49ers free-agent targets to bolster pass-rushing depth

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Five free agents for 49ers to target after Willis' suspension originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 49ers' pass-rushing depth got a little thinner Thursday when it was announced that defensive end Jordan Willis had been suspended for six games for violating the NFL's Performance Enhancing Drug Policy.

Willis will be eligible to return in Week 8. With Willis not a current factor, the 49ers' pass-rushing rotation currently includes starters Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead, with Samson Ebukam, Arden Key and potentially Dee Ford, should he return from his back injury, as rotational pieces.

That's not a lot of depth at a key position, especially with Bosa coming off an ACL tear and Armstead kicking inside on passing downs.

So, let's take a look at a few veteran free agents who the 49ers could target to bolster their pass-rushing depth.

Melvin Ingram

This was the obvious name that was floating around after news of Willis' suspension dropped.

Ingram, 32, is coming off a season in which he didn't record a sack and played in just seven games for the Los Angeles Chargers due to a knee injury.

The three-time Pro-Bowl selection is a dynamic pass-rusher when healthy, but the 49ers are unlikely to shell out more than the veteran salary exception given their low-cap situation. Ingram likely still is looking for more money than that, but his situation obviously is one to keep an eye on.

Everson Griffen

Griffen is coming off a season in which he recorded six sacks, 14 QB hits and 18 solo tackles in 14 games split between the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

Griffen, 33, signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cowboys last offseason with $3 million guaranteed. No longer a star, Griffen would be a nice rotational piece for the 49ers to add if the money is right.

Dion Jordan

This would be an easy move for the 49ers to make.

Jordan spent last season with the 49ers, recording three sacks in 13 games. The Oregon product initially started the year on the practice squad, but he was pushed onto the active roster due to the rash of injuries.

Jordan would be a low-cost signing who knows the system and would provide some needed depth.

Vic Beasley

After recording at least five sacks in four consecutive seasons, Beasley dropped off a cliff last year. He didn't record a sack in 10 games split between the Raiders and Tennessee Titans.

But the 28-year-old recorded 15.5 sacks in 2016 and followed that up with eight in 2017 and five in both 2018 and 2019. Beasley still has talent and the 49ers could take a flier on someone with a pedigree for getting after the QB on Sundays.

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Justin Houston

Houston, 32, showed he still could make an impact last season. He recorded eight sacks for the Indianapolis Colts, which came on the heels of an 11-sack year in 2019.

The veteran pass rusher has notched at least eight sacks in each of his last four seasons and still has the juice left to be a good pass-rushing option for a contender.

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