Heading into another off-season with no clear answer at edge rusher, Niners Live discusses why Cassius Marsh can be of assistance.
Meet Cassius Marsh
A 6’4” and 245 lbs., a tweener ( mix between a defensive lineman and linebacker) Cassius Marsh was drafted in the fourth round (108th overall) out of UCLA in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. No disrespect intended, but Marsh didn’t stand a chance to sniff the starting lineup in Seattle, joining a stacked linebacking core consisting of K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin and a defensive line group consisting of Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Yeah, good luck with that. Marsh would have to earn his money in garbage time or on special teams if he wanted to see decent burn (another word for playing time), especially with his modest scouting report coming out of college.
Per his pre-draft scouting report, the following was said about Marsh:
Weaknesses: he lacks the foot speed to beat left tackles, needed to hit the weight room and improve his core strength, had bad pad level (fundamentals), was too emotional, and marginally difficult to coach.
Strengths: Outstanding effort/energy, good pursuit, good hustle, makes those around him better, can set the edge, good use of hands, can shed blocks, tough, durable, and can play either inside or outside (via NFL.com).
He’d fit right in up there in Seattle, right? Not for long. Marsh played two seasons in Seattle (2014-2016), primarily on special teams before he was traded to the New England Patriots in 2017. Marsh recorded a total of 56 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and a blocked field goal during his two-team tour before being cut by the New England Patriots on November 21, 2017.
Marsh travels west
A day after being added to the long list of New England cast offs, Marsh was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco 49ers on November 22, 2017. Ironically, Marsh saw his first action against the team that drafted him in a week 12 divisional game at home against the Seattle Seahawks. Marsh only recorded two tackles, but as seen in this week 12 NFL highlight video, Marsh was in hot pursuit of escape artist Russell Wilson. The 49ers ended up losing the game 24-13, but Marsh did show some of the strengths from his pre-draft scouting report as his high motor and hustle showed on every snap. In six games with the 49ers, Marsh recorded 10 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two sacks (via team’s website).
Making a case for a 2018 roster spot
Marsh has predominantly played on passing downs to produce pressure on the quarterback. As anemic as the Forty-Niners’ pass rush has been, and the way Marsh attacks off the edge and hurries the quarterback out of the pocket, the team may want to consider keeping him around as what he brings to the table hasn’t been on the menu for some time.
You can’t tell me watching him come off that edge, turn that corner, and do a superman dive into the quarterback knocking the ball loose or recording a sack doesn’t get you up out of your seat. Sorry, got excited. But I digress. I’m not insinuating he’s the answer to the Forty-Niners’ pass rush problems, but he’s definitely a name that can provide a spark to the normally nonexistent pass rush. Based upon the way he’s played in limited games, until there’s another option, Marsh needs to be on this roster in 2018 to at least have a resemblance of a pass rush off the edge. Go Niners!
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Co-Author, Kevin Mitchell Staff Writer at Niners Live and Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims.