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Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Why the 49ers checked the boxes for DE Clelin Ferrell

Mar 16, 2023 at 4:52 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers have to be an ideal landing spot for any player. The team has been to the NFC Championship three times and made a Super Bowl appearance in the last four seasons. For one free-agent defensive lineman, the Niners checked a lot of boxes.

"I think for me, I really just fell in love with the way that they play defense here," Clelin Ferrell said on Thursday, speaking with 49ers reporters for the first time.

Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek was a big draw too. Knowing the coach's background and success in bringing out the best in his players contributed to the decision to sign with the 49ers.

Ferrell added, "So it was just kind of checking that box, for sure."

The 49ers weren't the only team expressing strong interest in the defensive end.

"It came down to probably around about three or four teams that I had pretty serious interest in," Ferrell shared. "But the 49ers just stood out just because, obviously, I've been watching them for a very long time. I started out in Oakland my rookie year, so I've already known what the rivalry was."

Ferrell is familiar with his new teammates along the defensive line. He has trained with guys like Nick Bosa and Arik Armstead before. In addition, he's trained with some former 49ers like DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. Ferrell received good feedback from those players on what it was like within the organization.

"Basically, really, having good friends and having good relationships from guys around the league that have told me good things about [the team], and kind of just reassured everything that I had to hear about Coach Kris or Coach [Kyle] Shanahan, or even [general manager] John Lynch upstairs.

"So I think that that relationship is what I've really honed in on, for sure. Just really trusting my guys. So understanding that those relationships are things that have kind of carried me through, a little bit of guidance through this process, for sure."

One of Ferrell's former Raiders teammates, Arden Key, made a one-season stop in Santa Clara and turned it into a nice payday. He isn't the only player who has followed a similar path.

"I definitely take heed and look at those guys' history and see where it projects," Ferrell admits.

Raiders fans might tell you that Ferrell never lived up to the expectations set by being the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, two selections after the 49ers drafted Bosa. The defensive end is willing to do whatever it takes to prove his doubters wrong.

"I think, being here, I'm really just buying in," Ferrell admitted. "I have an open mind to whatever Coach Kris has for me because, regardless of the fact, I'm still a very young player, and I still have a lot of time to develop it, and I really don't think I've tapped into my potential. So I'm just coming in with an open mind, and I'm really excited, ready to hit the ground running."

While Ferrell used the word "potential," he doesn't necessarily like the word. Instead, he prefers a different term.

"I hate that word potential because I hate talking about it," Ferrell said. "But definitely, regardless of the fact, I think you just want progression. ... It wasn't about whether I feel like I could progress here and not anywhere else. It was really more, which way did I feel like it was going to make me progress in the way that I feel like would have been the best benefit for the team I'm playing for? And I feel like my skill set, specifically, it just fits the identity and the culture of this team."

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