Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports


49ers Need to Sign Justin Houston

Levin T. Black
Mar 10, 2019 at 9:24 PM1


There's no question the San Francisco 49ers pass rush from the edge has been a problem. GM John Lynch should sign recently released linebacker Justin Houston to solve that problem.

To be clear, Houston should be the first step in solving the problem with the second step coming in the draft next month. Houston was officially released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. They chose that route rather than paying him the $15.25 million base salary he was due.

Of course the Chiefs attempted to trade Houston prior to releasing him. The 30-year-old isn't quite the same player he was when he came within a half sack of the single season record in 2014 with 22. No team was going to give up a draft pick just to pay him like he is still the player he was when he signed a then NFL record contract for a defensive player following that 2014 season (6 years, $101 million). That doesn't mean he isn't still a very good veteran.

Houston had 9 sacks last season in just 12 games. He had 9.5 in 2017 in 15 games. That's 18.5 total sacks in 27 games to go with a total of 32 hits on the quarterback according to Pro Football Reference. Last season he also had 8 tackles for a loss in 12 games. If he had played all 16 games at that rate he would have ranked sixth among defenders who primarily play linebacker.

It gets better. In 2018 he had five forced fumbles. That's the fifth most in the league. It's one more than Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, one more than Von Miller and two more than Frank Clark and Trey Flowers. He also had the sixth fastest sack in the NFL last season according to Next Gen Stats. His speed isn't completely gone.

I provide all these stats to preface saying this, Houston is not an Elvis Dumervil situation. Dumervil was 33-years-old when he played for the 49ers in 2017. At that point in his career he was only a pass specialist. Houston is still capable of playing all downs.

Cost will be a factor. He is good enough to still command a hefty payday. Probably not as big of one as Houston's agent is hoping for. A pass rusher on the wrong side of 30 who has already shown some decline and injury issues just won't get huge money. Still it won't be cheap. Khalil Mack got $23.5 million average per year. Pass rushers may be the second most expensive behind only quarterbacks. The 49ers should pony up what it takes.

The 49ers should offer something along of the lines of four years, $45 million. It sounds like a lot. It's less than half Mack's average and NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. Guarantee $25 million of it and structure it to be paid in the first two years. That makes it essentially a two year, $25 million deal with team options for each of the final two seasons at $10 million a piece.

The move would give the 49ers an ideal veteran pass rusher to pair with a top draft pick. If age starts taking its toll, the 49ers can cut ties after two seasons.

The 49ers have been criticized for not making the big move when the opportunity presents itself. It's time for Lynch to spend the money and shift the franchise into win mode. Pass rush should be the first priority.

Just imagine Houston at outside linebacker with someone like Nick Bosa in front of him at defensive end. Pass rush problem solved.
  • Levin T. Black
  • Written by:
    A graduate of Ball State University in 2009, Levin was an award winning sports journalist until he transitioned into a different career. He's written for Webzone since 2018.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


1 Comment

  • Greg
    Can’t they just claim him off waivers?
    Mar 10, 2019 at 10:16 PM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Why the 49ers must draft Justin Fields

By Adithya Peruvemba
Apr 8, 2021

When Jimmy Garappolo arrived in San Francisco in a trade from the New England Patriots in 2017, he was a young, athletic, and skilled quarterback. However, a couple of season-ending injuries later, his value has plummeted. The perception of the quarterback is that of an older, immobile, and inaccurate passer who often makes questionable decisions. Garoppolo's injury-riddled stint with the Niners has caused the entire team to suffer due to below-average backup play leading to mostly disappointing results. After head coach Kyle Shanahan's third losing season in four years, he has set his mind on using the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select a durable franchise quarterback who can execute his offensive playbook effectively and has the athletic skill set to lead a



Richard Sherman explains why drafting Justin Fields makes sense for the 49ers

By David Bonilla
Apr 7, 2021

Mac Jones versus Justin Fields or Trey Lance. That is the big debate when it comes to the San Francisco 49ers and the 2021 NFL Draft. While the latter two names are more likely to excite the fanbase, there is a lot of speculation that the former might be the pick at No. 3 overall. One former 49ers defender, cornerback Richard Sherman, doesn't assume it will be Jones, though. He actually sees Fields as the perfect fit for San Francisco, assuming Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are taken with the first two selections. Cornerback Tre'Davious White, the most recent guest on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, which Sherman co-hosts, also believes the 49ers will select Fields. It isn't easy to fathom that San Francisco surrendered multiple first-round picks and a



Former NFL QB explains why criticisms of Justin Fields, potential 49ers draft pick, are 'bogus'

By David Bonilla
Apr 7, 2021

No one is questioning Justin Fields' athleticism. Some question the former Ohio State quarterback's ability to transition from the college game to the pros quickly. Mark Sanchez recently joined The Pat McAfee Show and explained why Fields' ability to learn an NFL playbook might not take as long as some might be anticipating. Maybe all of his skeptics, who want to find ways to bring the quarterback down, are wrong. "For Justin, this guy, Dr. Goldman, he's a sports psychologist; I talked to him yesterday," Sanchez said (h/t to Jordan Cohn of 95.7 The Game). "He has some interesting



Justin Fields to throw again for NFL teams on April 14; 49ers expected to attend

By David Bonilla
Apr 7, 2021

Much was said of San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch's absences from Ohio State's pro day last week. Instead of traveling to Columbus to watch quarterback Justin Fields, a candidate to be drafted with the team's No. 3 overall pick, the duo was in Tuscaloosa for Alabama's pro day, watching Mac Jones. Why Jones over Fields? "[Just] talking with Fields' agent [David Mulugheta] and everything, we'll get another one from him too," Shanahan explained last week, per Kirk Larrabee. "So we'll be able to see him. That kind of made it an easy decision." According to Fields' agent, that next opportunity will come on


Featured

More by Levin T. Black

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone