1 free-agent moves from each NFC West Division rival that Rams fans can laugh at

Los Angeles Rams Sean Mcvay, Les Snead
Los Angeles Rams Sean Mcvay, Les Snead / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages
3 of 4

49ers sign DE Yetur Gross-Matos

The San Francisco 49ers knew they would lose longtime fan-favorite defense lineman Arik Armstead to free agency. Their solution? Sign former Carolina Panthers defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos to a two-year, $18 million deal. YGM is a 26-year-old edge rusher who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 265 pounds. So what's the problem?

YGM is a poor substitute for Arik Armstead.

Yetur Gross-Matos was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with the 39th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft in Round 2. His rookie contract has expired, leading him to test his value in free agency. But it's no stretch to say that he has underperformed for the Panthers so far. He has averaged just 3.0 quarterback sacks and 37 tackles in his first four NFL seasons. Will he do better for the 49ers? I don't see it.

YGM will struggle to get as much playing time in the 49ers rotation, and as such his production will likely suffer. That seems like a risky investment to make for a defending NFC Champion. But it's one that will get a chortle or two from Rams fans.

The 49ers got solid production out of their defensive front in 2023. Perhaps they have grown so confident that the front office believes that they will sustain that elite production no matter who leaves and who slides into the defense. I don't agree. The 49ers had a perfect storm of complementary talent in 2023, and I don't see that balance being held by their 2024 lineup.