Moving

What Charles Omenihu presents the San Francisco 49ers

The NFL trading deadline is approaching and some organizations are finding ways to expand their roster and potentially increase their playoff chances. Other teams want to build for the future by moving players and adding draft funds for the next draft cycle.

One of the teams in the second category are the Houston Texans. After the organization swapped Mark Ingram for the New Orleans Saints last week, the organization took another step and sent young pass-rusher Charles Omenihu to the San Francisco 49ers.

Omenihu was drafted in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL draft, following a draft cycle that caused some commotion in the weeks leading up to the draft. Buzz often doesn’t lead to a draft spot or NFL success. During his brief stint in Houston, Omenihu recorded seven sacks, three as a rookie in 2019 and four last season.

What do the 49ers get?

Potential.

This season, Omenihu has scored 17 quarterback pressures despite not posting a sack, according to Pro Football Focus. Immersing yourself in these moves exemplifies a pass rusher who can play on the edge or inside and who brings strength, power and a high engine to the table.

We can start with this game of Houston’s Week 1 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Omenihu aligns as a 5 technique, on the outside shoulder of the right tackle and in a four-point position. From the snap it tips inwards, with a quick first step to get leverage against the tackle and cut into the B-gap. He then fights his way through a double team when the guards fan out and try to help tackle the problem. Undaunted, Omenihu works his way up to quarterback Trevor Lawrence and forces a high under pressure, which however falls incompletely.

In this game against the Arizona Cardinals, Omenihu is more oriented towards a 4-technique, with the right tackle. His speed is shown again when he cuts inwards and folds the bag:

Pressure from Omenihu forces quarterback Kyler Murray off the court, and while the quarterback tries to crawl he is eventually knocked down for the sack by Jonathan Greenard. Omenihu’s rapid inward movement and penetration first threw the route’s timing through as Murray had to quickly vacate the bag and led to the sack.

Omenihu’s quick first step inward was a factor in Murray’s release from this Week 7 meeting:

The defender starts in a wide direction, on the outside of the wing taut end to the right attacking side. But as we’ve seen in the previous two examples, on a pirate stunt, it cuts inward, with the end (omenihu) and defensive tackle sloping inward while the nose tackle wraps them toward the edge.

When Omenihu slides in, he takes over both guard and tackle. Despite the double team block, he penetrates both to force Murray off the pitch again. DeMarcus Walker, the looping defender, eventually comes home to clean up the game with a sack.

Looking back on last season, Texans even used Omenihu over the center in some pass rush situations so that he could work indoors against centers and guards. In this 3rd and 6th game against the Baltimore Ravens, Omenihu aligns himself with his head up towards the center as a 0 technique. He attacks the A-gap between the center and the right guard and fights his way to Lamar Jackson for the sack:

Then there’s this sack against Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans, where Omenihu positions himself as a 3-technique outside the guard’s left shoulder and comes home with a cross-chop move along the outside of the guard and into the B-gap :

So far, all of the pieces we’ve looked at have shown that Omenihu is either cut inward or turned inward with this quick first step. There are also examples of how he operates on the margins and works outward. While the bulk of his success has come from either aligning with the inside or being tilted in that way, there is potential for him on the edge.

Take this 2020 game against the New England Patriots working against left tackle Isaiah Wynn:

Omenihu shows an impressive technique here with his hands, fighting Wynn for the bow and preventing the left tackle from getting into his frame at any point. The defender then flattens his way to the quarterback, making a good turn around the ledge, forcing Cam Newton out of his seat. Newton’s eventual pass attempt is wrong and is incomplete.

Or take this example against Green Bay from last season as he’s working out against the left tackle again:

Omenihu uses a long arm technique to try to control the LT as it approaches Aaron Rodgers. He gets close enough for the QB to save the bag and walk away from Omenihu, but the defender breaks away from the tackle and pursues Rodgers, getting a shot at the QB and creating an incompleteness.

The 49ers have some prolific players including Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. Omenihu gives them some depth on the fringes, but also a player who can align inward and work against guards and centers as we’ve seen. Putting it in some sub-packages with Bosa and Ford on the outside might be what the 49ers envision. That would create some potentially cheap indoor matchups for him and give the 49ers that inner pressure that can be disruptive to enemy attacks.

Plus, quarterbacks hate it. And if you, as a defensive coordinator or player, do things that QBs hate, that’s usually a good thing.

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