The 49ers’ biggest free-agent losses have come along the defensive line. San Francisco's biggest gain also was on the defensive line.
Bringing in former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave helped soften the blow of the 49ers seeing Samson Ebukam, Charles Omenihu, Jordan Willis and Hassan Ridgeway sign with other teams.
The 49ers also added defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant to compete for spots on the defensive line rotation.
But one player the 49ers envision being able to help the team compensate for their free-agent losses already has been around for a while.
“Kalia Davis, you know, our team is counting on him,” 49ers general manager John Lynch recently told reporters.
The 49ers selected Davis in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft with the No. 220 overall pick. They chose him despite the knowledge he was not likely to get on the field as a rookie after his final season at Central Florida ended due to a torn ACL.
The 49ers opened the practice window for Davis on Dec. 20, and he went through on-field drills for three weeks before remaining on the non-football injury list. He did not appear in any games as a rookie.
San Francisco 49ers
That should change this season, as the 49ers expect him to insert himself into the mix for a key role on the team.
“A lot of people don’t even know who he is,” Lynch said of Davis. “We put a sixth-round draft pick because we really liked his traits. He came back late in the year and practiced. We believe he can help us, but he’s got to go show that he can.”
When the 49ers selected Davis (6-foot-2, 310 pounds), they compared him to former 49ers nose tackle D.J. Jones, who was a sixth-round pick by the team (No. 199) in 2017.
San Francisco recognized Davis’ low center of gravity and his ability to explode off the snap of the ball were facets of his game that compared favorably to Jones.
Jones spent five seasons with the 49ers. He started all 42 games in which he appeared in his final three years with the club before signing a three-year, $30 million contract last offseason with the Denver Broncos.
"Kalia Davis, he's a guy we see a lot of D.J. Jones in," Lynch said shortly after the selection was made nearly a year ago. "He fits exactly who we want to be as a defensive tackle, and we became very fond of him through the process."