Sakamoto: 49ers’ Use Chargers 5th Round Pick On “Versatile” DE Ronald Blair


This pick was only made possible thanks to the San Diego Chargers. A three-for-one deal in which the San Francisco 49ers traded back two spots while still landing DE Arik Armstead, the 49ers had the luxury to make a selection at pick No. 142. That fifth-round pick was Appalachian State DE Ronald Blair

Considered a draft day steal as Blair was projected to go in the late third to early fourth-round, he somehow fell down NFL team’s draft boards and into the 49ers’ lap. The 49ers clearly needed a pass-rusher at the three-technique and Baalke believes he can do that and more.

“We look at him as a guy that can come in and move across the line of scrimmage, especially in the nickel package, and really line up at all four positions. He’s a guy that gives you some versatility,” Baalke told beat writers. At the NFL scouting combine Blair displayed his ‘beast-mode’ strength by knocking out 32 reps on the bench press. I asked Baalke if that number [32] was confirmed when evaluating his game-film.

“He’s one of the hardest workers. We had two scouts that went in there. They loved him. They raved about his work ethic, his character, so nothing surprised us in respect to the numbers. The numbers that you see on paper translate to the field.”

At 6-2, 284, Blair has the strength, power, and length (34″) to play the four-technique. No official depth chart has been set, but I think it’s safe to say DE Quinton Dial, DE Arik Armstead, first-round pick DE DeForest Buckner, and DE Glenn Dorsey sit atop the pecking order.

That leaves DE Tony Jerod-Eddie, DE Tank Carradine, and Blair. Baalke covets versatility. Fortunately for Blair he has that box checked compared to his competition [TJE and Carradine]. For that reason, I believe Blair earns a roster spot.

The 49ers carry no more than 6 defensive ends, so if you’re doing the math, it doesn’t look good for TJE or Carradine.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Two players who are under contract for the upcoming season, one of those players will have to beat out the other in a two-way camp battle. Back in March, Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area reported that the 49ers were looking to bring back Jerod-Eddie at a reduced salary. The team did by signing him to a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, this according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Obviously the team did not deem Jerod-Eddie was worth the $1.671 million qualifying offer for a restricted free agent, thus bringing him back at a reduced price tag.

Carradine on the other hand, has earned high praise from the 49ers general manager. “I think Tank Carradine’s going to have a really good season,” Baalke told beat writers in our annual pre-draft meeting.

But don’t count on Carradine playing in the team’s 3-4 base as that is no longer in the cards. “You bring guys in, you thought at the time, he could do a little of both and that he could play the four-technique but that just didn’t work,” Baalke admitted. But no one can deny his pass-rush skills, as I still view him as one of the team’s best pass-rushers on the team.

As the 49ers make the final cuts, do not be surprised if Jerod-Eddie is the odd man out. A player who was scheduled to become a restricted free-agent but settled for less, TJE may now be on the outside looking in.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.