The 49ers on Monday announced they had agreed to a two-year deal with veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who automatically becomes a top candidate for the so-called “Leo” defensive end spot on the right side of their line.
The 33-year-old Dumervil had just three sacks for the Baltimore Ravens last season -- the lowest total of his 10-year career -- but has 99 since he was a rookie in 2006. His recovery from an Achilles injury limited him to eight games and three starts in 2016, although he appeared to get stronger as the year went on. The Ravens cut him in March.
San Francisco hosted Dumervil on Thursday at which point he was given a physical.
Dumervil was teammates in Baltimore with fullback Kyle Juszczyk and center Jeremy Zuttah, and early in his career he spent two seasons on the same Denver Broncos defense as 49ers general manager John Lynch, who announced the hire on Twitter.
Dumervil, who has made the Pro Bowl five times over his career, took to his own Twitter account Monday to say, “I look forward to getting to know the NFC West QBs! See you soon SF.”
The 49ers have been tinkering with different players at Leo. Arik Armstead has been lining up there with the first-team defense. Aaron Lynch and rookie Pita Taumoepenu have been with the second- and third-team units respectively.
None of those players fits the archetype for the position. At 6-7, Armstead is far taller than the typical Leo, and he could end up playing there in base downs. Lynch must lose weight, perhaps as much as 20 pounds. Taumoepenu was a sixth-round pick, is raw and is a bit undersized for the position.
It’s not known how Dumervil’s addition will affect the defensive line rotation.
“He's learning it. Every day he gets better, which is encouraging,” defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina said on Wednesday when asked about Armstead. “Just watching him out there, it seemed like he had a better practice today than yesterday.”
“He moves well," defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said of Armstead on Wednesday. "The concern was that he’s so big and he doesn’t exactly fit the prototype, but he’s so athletic. He’s so long and he’s got a good first step. He just needs to get more comfortable in the things that we’re asking him to do physically.”
Dumervil joins Ahmad Brooks, 33, as the only members of the 49ers defense who are in their 30s. Brooks has been lining up as the first-team strong-side linebacker, a position that plays at the line of scrimmage. That means San Francisco’s defense could have a pair of 33-year-old bookends in 2017.