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Baldy: New 49ers DE Leonard Floyd an ‘upgrade on every level’

Mar 12, 2024 at 9:55 AM

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The San Francisco 49ers have agreed to terms with two defensive ends over the past 24 hours. They inked Leonard Floyd to a two-year, $20 million deal and Yetur Gross-Matos to a two-year, $18 million deal. Floyd stands out as the marquee signing, and NFL analyst Brian Baldinger views his arrival as a substantial improvement over the previous options opposite Nick Bosa.

Speaking on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game on Tuesday morning, Baldinger shared his insights, stating, "It's a big upgrade over [DE] Clelin Ferrell and [DE] Chase Young. You know, it's been a while since they've had a guy that could win one-on-ones and keep the quarterback kind of hurried and affect the quarterback. Leonard, he's a rangy guy. He's won. He's won in the postseason. He's a guy that you've got to pay attention to. So I think it's a big upgrade over what they put out there on the field a year ago."

Baldinger expanded on Floyd's strengths, highlighting, "He's got length and range and knows how to play off blocks. And you're not going to win a championship like he did with the Rams if you can't do a lot of those things. You can't get that far into the postseason and not get exposed if you're not good at that. I think he's been an every-down player since he got in the league. He's been really consistent. You can look at the sack numbers. They say one story, but you're not rushing the passer unless you're able to get in a position to rush the passer."

Baldinger reiterated, "I think he's an upgrade on every level over what they put on the field a year ago."

The 49ers are also parting ways with three defensive linemen. Ferrell, who Baldinger mentioned, is headed to the Washington Commanders. Javon Kinlaw's time in the Bay Area has come to an end. He will join the New York Jets on a one-year deal.

However, the most significant loss is Arik Armstead. Despite attempts to restructure his contract to reduce is salary-cap impact in 2024, the two sides couldn't reach an agreement, and the talented but often-injured defensive tackle will be released after the new league year begins.

While acknowledging the significance of losing Armstead, Baldinger wasn't entirely surprised by the development.

He explained, "When they signed [DT] Javon [Hargrave] last year, and they gave him the type of money—I mean, he was the first signing in free agency a year ago—I didn't think they were going to be able to pay everybody. And so you have to make those sacrifices."

Baldinger believes the upcoming draft presents opportunities to find defensive tackle talent. Developing players on rookie contracts could provide substantial savings for a team that has heavily invested in its defensive front in recent years.

He added, "I mean, sometimes you just got to find guys that aren't in the first round and develop them. That's part of what coaching is all about."

Regarding the Gross-Matos addition, Baldinger admits that little is known about the former Carolina Panthers defensive end because "nobody pays attention to the Carolina Panthers."

However, he did comment, "At this stage, I think he's a rotational player that can give you 20 to 30 snaps. If he's got to start, he's capable of doing that. But he's going to give you 20, 30 snaps a game right now, and that's what they need. They need to upgrade the rotation over what they had a year ago."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Baldinger below.


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