The San Francisco 49ers have added a new piece to their defensive front by acquiring pass rusher Randy Gregory from the Denver Broncos in a trade that also involves swapping 2024 draft picks. The 49ers hope that Gregory can provide a boost to their pass rush, which has been inconsistent so far this season.
Gregory’s career and struggles
Gregory was a second-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015, but his career was marred by multiple suspensions for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He missed the entire 2019 season due to his fourth suspension, but returned to the field in 2020 and recorded 3.5 sacks in 10 games for the Cowboys.
In March 2021, Gregory signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Broncos, which included $28 million in guarantees. However, he failed to live up to his expectations in Denver, as he only had one sack in four games this season and was benched last week in favor of rookie Nik Bonitto. The Broncos decided to move on from Gregory and trade him to the 49ers, while also paying most of his remaining salary for this season.
Gregory’s fit with the 49ers
The 49ers have been looking for ways to improve their defensive line, which has been hampered by injuries and inconsistency. They have only nine sacks in four games, with five of them coming in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their star edge rusher Nick Bosa, who signed a record-breaking contract extension in the offseason, has only one sack so far. Javon Hargrave, who was signed as a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles, has three sacks and leads the team in pressures.
The 49ers hope that Gregory can provide some help to their pass rush, especially on third downs and obvious passing situations. Gregory has shown flashes of his potential as a speed rusher who can bend around the edge and disrupt the quarterback. He also has experience playing under defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was his linebackers coach in Dallas from 2016 to 2018.
Gregory’s new teammates have welcomed him to the team and expressed their confidence in his ability to fit in with the 49ers’ culture and scheme. Bosa said that he was excited to play with Gregory and praised his talent and athleticism. Hargrave said that he was happy to have another veteran presence on the defensive line and called Gregory “a perfect fit” for the 49ers.
Gregory’s outlook and availability
Gregory will not play this Sunday against his former team, the Cowboys, as he needs time to learn the playbook and pass COVID-19 protocols. He is expected to make his debut for the 49ers in Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals, who are currently undefeated and lead the NFC West division.
Gregory will have a chance to prove himself with the 49ers and revive his career, which has been plagued by off-field issues and underperformance. He will also have an opportunity to earn a new contract, as his deal with the Broncos will void after this season. The 49ers will only owe him $2 million in dead money if they decide to part ways with him next year.
The trade for Gregory is a low-risk, high-reward move for the 49ers, who are looking to contend for a Super Bowl title this season. They are hoping that Gregory can find his groove with them and become a valuable contributor to their defense.