SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Clelin Ferrell ‘can’t wait’ to suit up for the Red & Gold next season

Mar 17, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 12:40 pm
Defensive end Clelin Ferrell #99 of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrates during the NFL game against th...
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 26: Defensive end Clelin Ferrell #99 of the Las Vegas Raiders celebrates during the NFL game against the Miami Dolphins at Allegiant Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Dolphins 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers have been known to tamper with reclamation projects in the past, turning underwhelming prospects into blue-chip NFL players. Particularly on the defensive line, with defensive ends Arden Key, Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu the latest to cash in from their 49ers’ stint.

Now facing salary cap struggles once again, San Francisco will try to make the most out of new castaway defensive end Clelin Ferrell.

Ferrell inked a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Red & Gold Thursday, hoping to recapture the form that made him a top-4 draft pick in 2019. But unlike his defensive line predecessors, Ferrell has a connection to the Bay like no other.

The Clemson alum spent his rookie season with the Raiders during its’ final season in Oakland. And while he enjoyed his time with the Silver & Black, Ferrell is thrilled to be back on West Coast.

“The last time I was in The Bay and playing football, they were playing MC Hammer and NWA in the stadium,” Clelin Ferrell recalled Thursday during his first press conference. “Now I’ll get to hear some E-40 thumping off in the back so I’m excited. I can’t wait. It’s going to be fun.”

His interest in the bay stems further than location, however, eager to join the 49ers’ elite defensive program. Thanks to defensive line coach Kris Kocurek, the 49ers have been able to churn out quality players in the front four. That’s one of the main reasons Ferrell chose San Francisco, looking to learn from one of the best organizations in the business.

“I think for me, I really just fell in love with the way that they play defense here,” Ferrell said. “And coach Kris [Kocurek] is obviously a staple in that and I truly believe that just by the way that he really believes in a rush-men lead defense…When the front comes alive, everything else kind of falls into place.

“I feel like my skill set, specifically, just fits with the identity and the culture of this team. I’ve always enjoyed the responsibility that the front four has.”

The Clemson alum will need to earn his way to that responsibility though, facing an uphill climb to consistent playing time with the starters. Only producing 10 total sacks in four seasons, Ferrell understands the critics because it comes with the game.

“I think criticism is, regardless of whether it’s fair or not, it just is what it is. It comes with the territory,” he stated.

At 26 years old, Ferrell knows it is now or never to reach his potential, hoping to show that an improved person on and off the field this season.

“I think it’s really been a blessing, whatever my journey has been in the league. Because what many people don’t know is, all these guys in the league, we’re still young men developing…So I think it’s been a really, really good transition for me. And I think that, for my career moving forward is really going to show that, you know, I really appreciate those years for sure,”  Ferrell explained.

His journey hasn’t been a solo mission, seeking advice from other 49ers’ defensive linemen, including DE Nick Bosa.

Ferrell shared with the media that during the COVID-19 pandemic, he trained with Bosa at his home and gym in Florida. Both in the same draft class, the pair of pass rushers are already quite familiar with one another. And that goes for a few other past, and present, 49ers as well.

“I have a lot of good friends around the league. I tell people this all the time: The NFL, it’s not a family, it’s a brotherhood. Guys like Arden [Key], Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Nick Bosa, we’ve all trained together and been in the same vicinity around each other…Whether I played against Javon in college or I’ve trained with Nick, Arik, Arden, Solomon Thomas and Maurice Hurst. I just have a good base of players around, especially ones that have been here. They gave me really good feedback and kind of solidified things and any questions that I may have gotten in the process. I definitely look at those guys’ history and I’ve seen where it projects,” Clelin Ferrell said.

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