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49ers turn to Elvis Dumervil to add pop to pass rush

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk and pass-rusher Elvis Dumervil both arrived in Baltimore to play for the Ravens in 2013. They spent the past four seasons as teammates there, with Juszczyk coming into his own as a player and Dumervil furthering his legacy as one of the league's most dynamic pass-rushers.

So when the Niners signed Dumervil to a two-year contract last week, Juszczyk was excited not only to welcome his new teammate but to offer a scouting report on what Dumervil could bring to the table.

"Elvis Dumervil is a great player," Juszczyk said. "Elvis is a guy that I’ve seen take over games when I was in Baltimore. He’s a sack specialist, that’s what he does. He gets after the quarterback and I think he’s a great addition to this team and I’m excited to have him here. I think he’s going to bring something special here."

That is a hope shared by the rest of the Niners and general manager John Lynch after San Francisco was one of the least-productive pass-rushing teams in the NFL the past two seasons. The 49ers haven't had a player with more than 6.5 sacks in either, and they finished 28th in 2016 in pressure rate, which is a percentage of how often the opposing quarterback is sacked, hit or under duress.

Dumervil, meanwhile, is instantly the team's most accomplished pass-rusher. He arrives with five Pro Bowl berths, two All-Pro nods and 99 sacks, including a career-high 17 in both 2009 and 2014 on his résumé. In seven of his 10 NFL seasons, he's had at least 8.5 sacks.

“Elvis is a proven pass-rusher in this league whose credentials speak for themselves,” Lynch said. “We are ecstatic to add another piece to what we feel is shaping up to be a formidable defensive front.”

The addition of Dumervil, 33, came after the Niners were about halfway through their organized team activities and would seem to indicate they believe they need more pass-rush potential from the "Leo" defensive end spot that Dumervil is expected to play. During OTAs, the Niners have leaned on the likes of Arik Armstead and Aaron Lynch to work there, but Armstead still must prove himself as a pass-rusher from that spot, and Lynch remains in a struggle to reach his ideal playing weight.

Dumervil is coming off an Achilles injury that has hampered him the past couple of seasons, but the Niners believe he's healthy enough to contribute and it's likely they'll limit his snaps to pass-rushing situations to keep him fresh and doing what he does best.

If nothing else, having Dumervil around gives the Niners' younger pass-rushers someone to learn from while also ratcheting up the competition at an important position.

"Elvis is tough," Juszczyk said. "He has a good combination of finesse and power. The guy is fast, he’s lower to the ground so he can be very powerful, but at the same time, he has very good moves with his hands. He’s the master of his craft."