The San Francisco 49ers embark on a Sunday night showdown against the Dallas Cowboys with an unblemished 4-0 record for the season, positioning themselves as prime contenders for Super Bowl glory in the NFL. This, however, did not deter their ever-active general manager, John Lynch, from augmenting their talent pool in a budget-conscious manner. The announcement came on a Friday afternoon when San Francisco disclosed their acquisition of the seasoned pass rusher, Randy Gregory, from the Denver Broncos. The intricacies of this transaction underscore its character as a venture that carries minimal risk but promises substantial rewards for the 49ers.
In this deal, the 49ers relinquished a sixth-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, in exchange for Gregory and a seventh-round selection. On the financial front, the 49ers will only be responsible for an economical sum of $840,000 for Gregory’s contract over the remainder of the season—a figure that aligns with the NFL’s veteran minimum stipulations. It is noteworthy that Gregory, at the age of 30, had inked a colossal five-year, $70 million contract with the Denver Broncos ahead of the 2022 season. It is pertinent to mention that no guaranteed funds remain attached to his contract, affording the 49ers the flexibility to either release Gregory or restructure his deal post the culmination of the 2023 season.
Reports indicate that Denver had contemplated releasing the former second-round selection from Nebraska prior to securing a trading partner in the 49ers. Gregory’s tenure with the Broncos did not yield the anticipated results, as he managed to record merely three sacks in ten appearances with the team. The primary objective here revolves around fortifying the depth on the edge opposite the recently extended Nick Bosa. Thus far this season, second-year player Drake Jackson and free-agent acquisition Clelin Ferrell have shouldered these responsibilities. Jackson did manage to amass three sacks during San Francisco’s season-opening victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but has largely remained subdued since. In tandem with the acquisition of Gregory, the 49ers opted to part ways with the seasoned pass rusher Kerry Hyder Jr., in order to create room on the 53-man roster. It is worth noting that there exists the possibility of Hyder rejoining the practice squad.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan expounded upon the acquisition of Randy Gregory during his customary weekly press briefing on Friday. Among other facets, Shanahan elucidated on the qualities he discerns in Gregory, remarking, “When we faced him two years ago in Dallas, he demonstrated unparalleled prowess as a pass rusher. The fact that we had the opportunity to acquire an individual of his caliber, and thereby enhance our team’s capabilities, led us to an immediate decision.”
Randy Gregory, a second-round pick by the Cowboys hailing from Nebraska in the class of 2015, has exhibited intermittent flashes of brilliance. In 2018, he amassed an impressive tally of 15 quarterback hits and six sacks. His final season with the Cowboys in 2021 witnessed him compile 17 quarterback hits and six sacks. Even in a limited capacity with the Broncos during the preceding season, Gregory managed to secure the 15th spot among NFL edge rushers in terms of pass-rush win rate. With offensive lines compelled to allocate their focus towards double-teaming Bosa on the opposite flank, Gregory is poised to receive ample opportunities to leave his imprint on proceedings. The inclusion of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, secured via free agency in the recent spring, introduces an additional layer of complexity to this defensive ensemble.
In light of the frugal nature of Gregory’s acquisition, it is improbable that it will exert any influence on the strategic maneuvers that John Lynch and his team undertake in the lead-up to the NFL trade deadline later this month. San Francisco continues to hold an estimated 11 selections in the 2024 NFL Draft, comprising three third-round picks and an additional pair of fourth-round selections. Furthermore, the 49ers maintain the distinction of possessing the highest available cap space in the league, totaling a staggering $43.39 million. Lynch’s willingness to engage in the NFL trade market was aptly demonstrated on Friday, a sentiment that echoes his acquisition of Christian McCaffrey during the corresponding period a year ago.
Notwithstanding San Francisco’s stature as one of the preeminent teams in the NFL, certain aspects of their roster elicit questions. This primarily encompasses the cornerback position beyond Charvarius Ward and the right tackle position. Should the 49ers determine that addressing either of these areas is imperative, it is likely that actions will transpire in advance of the impending deadline. In light of these considerations, it is evident that the acquisition of Randy Gregory bears no discernible impact, as delineated by the aforementioned details.