Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Samson Ebukam looking forward to chasing QBs and developing his game with 49ers

Mar 19, 2021 at 12:06 PM--

What type of impact will Samson Ebukam be making as a member of the San Francisco 49ers? It remains to be seen, but he sounds anxious to do whatever he can to help the defense take down some quarterbacks.

Ebukam signed with the 49ers this week on a two-year free-agent deal worth $12 million after playing the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams. Ebukam had 150 sacks and 14 tackles as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Rams, but he'll most likely line up as a defensive end and serve in a rotational role for the 49ers. Regardless of where the 49ers choose to line him up, Ebukam is looking forward to the chance to show his skills for his new team.

"I'm going to be rolling," Ebukam told reporters in his introductory media session Friday. "What I've been told is I'm expected to be on that field. I'm excited just to hear that because it's more of an opportunity for me to showcase what I can do. I'm probably going to play D-End, or whatever position they want me to play. It doesn't matter."

Ebukam will be joining a talented defensive line group with the 49ers that includes Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, and DJ Jones, among others. The chance to play on the same unit with Bosa played a big role in Ebukam's decision to leave Los Angeles for the Bay Area.

"It was huge," Ebukam said. "I'm getting to know a different side of the ball just playing D-End. How they play and what I've seen on film, that's something I definitely want to play next to. It'll motivate me to make sure I'm always on my toes and I'm not holding the team back or anything like that, just helping to improve it."

The 49ers are getting a player in Ebukam who still has untapped potential and room for development after not playing American football until well after his move from Nigeria to Oregon at age nine. Ebukam admits he shouldn't exactly be referred to as a pass-rushing technician at this point in his career, but he at least has the drive and intensity needed to make an impact in the 49ers' pass rush.

"[I'm] definitely not a technician, because I've seen film. I know I'm not a technician," Ebukam. "But it's just the effort, just being relentless and always trying to find a way to get to that quarterback. That's what I really enjoy is getting to the quarterback and taking him down because it stops the whole momentum for everything that the offense is doing. I think that's the number one thing is the high motor."

Ebukam will have the chance in San Francisco to learn from defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and develop some new tools to help him become more productive. He's already planning on working on his first step, which he expects to help him bring down more quarterbacks in the future.

"I've already started talking to Coack K," Ebukam said. "He's just trying to make sure that I get my first step down because he knows I'm fast. He's like, 'If you get that first step down, you're going to be skyrocketing and shooting out of your stance, getting to the quarterback that much faster.' Just to have those types of people around me with him and Bosa, I'm just going to watch and learn and adapt and overcome everything and get to that quarterback faster."

At 6-3, 245, Ebukam will look a little undersized compared to the other 49ers defensive linemen, particularly the 6-5, 319-pound Kinlaw. But while he may be far from the biggest player on the 49ers line, he feels he'll fit in well with what Kocurek and the rest of the group will be aiming to do.

"I saw Kinlaw not too long ago, actually. I felt really small next to him," Ebukam said. "But I was like yeah, man, this is a massive front. After talking to Coach K and what he wants out of his players, I'm just like yeah, we're going to be getting after it, being relentless after the ball wherever it is, getting after the quarterback. If it's running, we're stuffing every gap just to make it easier for the people behind us -- all the linebackers and all the DBs, just make it easy for them to see where the ball is."

Ebukam also feels he's a good fit with former 49ers inside linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans, who will be in his first year as the team's defensive coordinator after Robert Saleh left to become head coach of the New York Jets. Ebukam says he and Ryans have a similar approach to the game on and off the field.

"Yeah, definitely. His energy's kind of like mine in a way," Ebukam said. "Off the field, it's like nice, calm, and just straight action. He just says exactly what he needs from you, and I like that. Because on the field, that's when I really turn on the jets. Off the field, I kind of like to make sure that everything is sound. I feel like that's the same way that he is."

Right now, Ebukam is most known for a stellar performance he had against the Kansas City Chiefs in the instant-classic 2018 Monday night game that saw the Rams outlast the Chiefs 54-51. In that game, Ebukam had three tackles, one sack, one pass defensed, two quarterback hits, one interception returned for a touchdown, and one fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, and he hasn't stopped hearing about it since. But, with any luck, he'll add enough highlights as a member of the 49ers to make his performance against the Chiefs seem like an afterthought.

"It would be nice to rehash it after I'm done playing, but right now it's getting old because I'm just trying to move on from it," Ebukam said. "Right now, I've got a bigger role here. I'm trying to just see if I could do that every week."

A bigger cause

Ebukam spent his younger days in Onitsha, Nigeria with his six brothers and sisters before moving to the United States. His native country hasn't left his heart, however, and he made that known by wearing a hoodie to his media session that carried the name of his charity, the T&S Foundation. Named after his mother and father, Tobias and Stella, Ebukam's charity focuses on giving back to Nigeria and helping the people there fulfill their basic needs.

"All we're trying to do is just help the people of Nigeria with humanitarian needs," Ebukam said. "Because I know that Nigeria, it's supposed to look like Dubai but it doesn't, because it's getting exploited. So, just to go back there and help my people out a little bit in any way I can, whether that's giving them food, giving them school clothes, giving them soccer balls to play around (with), just to make sure they know there's someone here who actually does care for them."

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