The 49ers just made their second smart move of the day.
Key spent the first three seasons of his career with the Raiders and was a colossal disappointment. In three years, he recorded only three sacks. Last season, he recorded a whopping zero sacks. No wonder the Raiders didn’t re-sign him. He’s no lock to make the 49ers final roster.
But Key is exactly the kind of underachieving talent that 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek has had success with. Last season, Kocurek turned former busts Dion Jordan and Jordan Willis into productive contributors, plus he turned journeyman Kerry Hyder into an impact player.
Key has just as much talent as Hyder, if not more. Key recorded 11 sacks as a sophomore at LSU in 2016. He was a third-round pick in 2018, and he has recorded 26 quarterback hits in three NFL seasons, which is good. He has potential. If Kocurek can get him to fire off the snap quicker, those quarterback hits could become sacks.
Key joins a rotation of defensive ends that includes Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford (if he ever plays again) Samson Ebukam, Jordan Willis and Alex Barrett. That’s a terrific group of edge rushers when healthy. Meaning the 49ers can spend a draft pick on an edge rusher if they’d like, but they don’t have to anymore.