The 49ers on Wednesday signed one of their own free agents, pass rusher Cassius Marsh, to a two-year contract.
Marsh, 25, was a late-season addition after the New England Patriots waived him in November. The 49ers immediately inserted him into the lineup and he was a key contributor at the “Leo” defensive end position and on special teams.
From Week 12 onward, only Dekoda Watson played more special teams than Marsh, 131 snaps to 117. Marsh, however, also was on the field for 189 defensive snaps in that span versus two for Watson. Pro Football Focus gave Marsh a solid 76.9 overall grade as a pass rusher with San Francisco with Marsh creating pressure on 11.9 percent of his pass rushes.
Pass rusher is an area of concern for the defense after it finished with just 30 sacks – tied for sixth fewest in the NFL – on the season. Marsh had two sacks in six games, which tied for third on the 49ers. The team likely will continue to augment the edges of the defense in free agency and the draft.
“Since joining the team late last season, Cassius has impressed us with his unique skill set and the tremendous energy and passion he brings to all phases of the game,” general manager John Lynch said in a statement. “Cassius is a great example of our desire to reward our own players with contract extensions as we continue to build out our roster. We’re excited to have him as a 49er moving forward.”
In an interview with The Bee in December, Marsh, who originally was a 2014 draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks, said he badly wanted to return to a team he saw as ascendant in the NFL. The 49ers want relentless, always-attacking players at their so-called “Leo” defensive end spot, which is where Marsh lined up when he was with Seattle and which fits Marsh’s style.
“I think it’s something that can be surpassed,” he said of what the Seahawks have accomplished on defense in recent years. “And that’s with all due respect. They’ve got a lot of great players over there. But there’s no reason why this team can’t be better. I see so much potential in every player here. (The roster) is super young and everyone’s trying to get better. The coaches, the players – I don’t know, it just feels good to be here.”
It has been a lucrative few weeks for Marsh. Because he spent most of the 2017 season with the Patriots, he earned $135,000 in playoff earnings. So did ex-Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who could be getting his own contract extension soon.