San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis was suspended for the first six games of the regular season without pay for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, according to the team.
Willis, who was expected to be a rotational player behind star Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, and Samson Ebukam, will still participate in offseason practices, as well as training camp and preseason games.
Willis was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He played the first two seasons of his career in Cincinnati before he was released and later picked up by the New York Jets prior to the start of 2019.
The Jets then traded him to the 49ers during the 2020 season. Willis played in nine games in 2020, and only had 2.5 sacks, which ended up being a career-high. He was signed to a one-year deal during the offseason.
The 49ers were decimated with injuries last year, so Willis’ injury will definitely impact the team’s depth on the defensive line. So far this season, offensive lineman Justin Skule tore his ACL, and safety Tarvarius Moore suffered an Achilles injury. Running back Jeff Wilson also had a knee injury, but he is expected to play this upcoming season.
A year removed from a Super Bowl appearance, the 49ers finished with a disappointing 6-10 record last season. Robert Saleh ran the show for San Francisco’s defense, but he left for the Jets earlier this offseason. The 49ers’ defense will need to adjust to new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who was an All-Pro linebacker during his playing days with the Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles.