Jordan Willis, a defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers, has been suspended for the first six games of the new NFL season. Willis violated NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances and the league has decided that he will have to sit out the start of the 2021 season.
And while Willis is not a regular starter for the 49ers, this decision will be a blow for the San Francisco-based franchise, as it makes Willis yet another 49ers player who is ruled out for the start of the season. The defensive end showed that he could be a decent depth option for the 49ers during the 2020 season and that he had a role to play in their rotation.
A Decent Backup Player
Jordan Willis was picked in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He stayed for two years in the Queen City and moved to the New York Jets in 2019. Willis spent only a season with the Jets before he was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in the first half of the 2020 season.
And while nobody expected Willis to set the world alight with his performances, he proved to be a reliable backup option for the 49ers. He appeared in only nine games in 2020 but managed to record 2.5 sacks per game, a career-high for the 26-year-old player. As a result, the San Francisco 49ers gave him a one-year extension during the first month of free agency.
Mounting Injury Problems for the 49ers
Willis’ suspension alone won’t derail the 49ers’ start of the season. However, the six-game ban the former Jets defensive end will have to serve will reduce the 49ers options on the bench and may affect their performances in more testing games.
Dee Ford and Arik Armstead, who were ahead of Willis in the pecking order even before his suspension, might see more playing time now, and Daeshon Hall, who joined the 49ers from the Eagles, will also see Willis’ suspension as a chance to get more playing opportunities.
What might complicate the start of the season for the 49ers, though, is the number of players that will miss out through injury and now suspension.
Justin Skule, the 49ers offensive lineman, suffered a season-ending ACL injury and Tarvarius Moore, the 49ers safety, suffered an equally serious Achilles tear.
Considering that the 49ers record in 2020 was 6-10, and the team was ravaged by injuries, players getting hurt and suspended once again doesn’t help the 49ers cause to have a better season than the 2020 one.
However, not all is doom and gloom for the 2019 NFC champions. They are starting to bring back some of their star players that missed 2020 due to injury, so that should instill some confidence in 49ers fans about their prospects for the start of next season.