The 49ers on Monday announced they had signed veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who automatically becomes a lead 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. An Achilles injury limited him to eight games and three starts last season, and the Ravens cut him in March.
Dumervil was teammates in Baltimore with fullback Kyle Juszczyk, 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.
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. 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.”