The San Francisco 49ers addressed the depth of two defensive areas on Thursday, March 16 by bringing back two members of their 2023 free agency class.
Defensive tackle T.Y. McGill was the first to resign with the 49ers, first reported by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, which is a one-year deal. Then, nearly 10 minutes later at 2:45 p.m. Eastern, the franchise announced outside linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles was resigned, also to a one-year deal.
The moves not only alleviate depth concerns at defensive tackle and outside linebacker after the losses of Maurice Hurst (signed with the Browns Thursday per Brad Stainbrook of the Orange and Brown Report) and Azeez Al-Shaair (deal with Tennessee Titans became complete on Wednesday) at defensive tackle and OLB, but the moves bring back two 49ers lauded for their presence in rotational situations and on special teams.
McGill Lauded as Rotational Piece
The veteran McGill ended up on his sixth franchise when he joined the 49ers’ practice squad before the 2022 season.
The 6-foot, 299-pounder ended up seeing nine games of action while playing on a deep 49ers defensive line. And in the process, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek found a way to unlock the small but feisty interior defender.
“The 49ers needed at least a little more depth among their DTs, so they bring back T.Y. McGill who generated some decent rotational pass rushing for them in 2022,” 49ers insider for The Athletic David Lombardi said about the signing. “Initially a practice squad signee, McGill notched 11 pressures after he was called up — including 4 vs the Raiders.”
And on that New Year’s Day win in Las Vegas, McGill did his most attacking from the left — as he managed to take advantage of some one-on-one blocks and gained penetration.
McGill, though, proves he’s more than QB pressures. He’s also a run disruptor, proven by this pivotal goal line stop from the same game at Allegiant Stadium.
Plus as shown here versus the New Orleans Saints:
With Javon Hargrave on board to provide the 49ers a needed pass rushing interior defender, McGill can help take pressure off Hargrave and the rest of IDL room at the nose tackle spot. He can also continue to come in handy when the 49ers are backed to the end zone.
Flannigan-Fowles Has Gone From ‘Bandit’ to Valuable Specialist
Flannigan-Fowles was once known as a “bandit” defender — which was the name of his safety position at the University of Arizona.
As the “bandit,” the Ex-Wildcat piled up 78 total tackles (59 unassisted) in 2016 then 81 total stops (57 solo) the following season per the U of Arizona website. He also went on to become a game day captain five times in his final collegiate season of ’18.
Since then, he’s provided a stout special teams presence but also a needed extra defender at OLB. In 2022, he played in all 17 games and went on to become the fifth-best tackler on special teams by notching 15 tackles. He added seven tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
During the postseason, Flannigan-Fowles’ safety instinct past kicked in when reading this screen from Geno Smith of the Seattle Seahawks — as he’s one of three 49ers blowing this play up right away:
Both McGill and Flannigan-Fowles are the lone two defensive free agents from the 49ers’ 2023 class to be lured back in.