Former Vikings Defender Bolts for 49ers

Cousins Rumor Is Finally
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks was out of a job for about a week. That’s all it took.

Former Vikings Defender Bolts for 49ers

Kendricks stayed in California this week, dropped eight days ago by the Los Angeles Chargers but reportedly signing with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday.

vikings
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ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted, “49ers are signing former Chargers LB Eric Kendricks to a one-year deal, per source. Kendricks was a Chargers captain last season, when he started 14 games and finished second on the team with 117 tackles.”

Kendricks instantly joins a contender, and barring fluky roster injuries in 2024, he should be a shoo-in to reach the postseason. The veteran defender is from Clovis, California, so once again, he’ll stay close to home for his career’s third act.

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Kendricks had previously latched onto the Chargers last offseason after spending eight productive seasons in Minnesota. The Vikings said goodbye to Kendricks in March 2023 amid an offseason of change, including the departures of Dalvin Cook, Patrick Peterson, Dalvin Tomlinson, Irv Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Cameron Dantzler, Duke Shelley, and Adam Thielen, among others.

Then, Jim Harbaugh and friends took over seven weeks ago, and Kendricks evidently wasn’t a priority to keep on the roster.

Eric Kendricks
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota drafted Kendricks in the 2nd Round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the same event that netted Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs. It took a couple of seasons for Kendricks to metamorphize into an otherworldly defender, but when he did, he was an All-Pro contributor. Kendricks logged 575 total tackles with the Vikings from 2015 to 2022, the most of any Vikings player during the timeframe.

Los Angeles saved $6.5 million with Kendrick’s release, and its linebacker room will need more attention this week in free agency or the draft. Nick Niemann and Daiyan Henley are the only men at Kendricks’ position currently under contract for 2024. As for the 49ers’ linebacking corps, these defenders are currently under contract:

  • Fred Warner
  • Dre Greenlaw
  • Dee Winters
  • Eric Kendricks
  • Jalen Graham
  • Curtis Robinson

Kendricks logged 117 tackles in 15 games last season, with 7 QB hits, 7 tackles for loss, and 6 passes defended. He also grabbed a rather impressive 72.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Kendricks earned a Pro Bowl and 1st-Team All-Pro nod in 2019, coincidentally the last time Minnesota won a playoff game.

Be a Negative
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San Francisco’s defense ranked fourth leaguewide in 2023 per DVOA, though it sputtered in the season’s final six games.

Kendricks turned 32 two weeks ago — a leap day baby.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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