Will Alex Barrett finally get his chance in 2022?

The 49ers’ defensive line remains terribly deep, which means Alex Barrett may have another tough fight to make a big presence of in 2022.

If you think about the defensive line of the San Francisco 49ers in the last three years, at least behind the big-name players like EDGE Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Arik Armstead, the 28-year-old Alex Beret is probably not the first that comes to mind.

It’s not entirely his fault. After all, since head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch took over in 2017, the Niners have repeatedly spent high-profile assets to bolster this group.

This has marginalized players like Barrett.

And if you’re wondering who Barrett is or how long he‘s been on the San Francisco list, you might not be alone. He entered the league in 2017 with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent but saw minimal regular-season action before joining the now-defunct Alliance of American Football in 2018.

It’s important to note that the 49ers have been exploring the AAF extensively (just ask right guard Daniel Brunskill), and Barrett caught their eye when the Niners signed him to practice squad in late 2019.

Alex Barrett Defense & Fumbles Table
Game Game thumbtack thumbtack thumbtack thumbtack thumbtack
Year Age tom position no G GS sk Comb solo branch TFL QBHits
2017 23 DET 79 2 0 0.0 1 0 1 0 0
2020 26 OFS 64 7 0 0.0 5 0 5 0 2
1 year 1 year DET 2 0 0.0 1 0 1 0 0
1 year 1 year OFS 7 0 0.0 5 0 5 0 2

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com
Created on 05/26/2022.

San Francisco didn’t need Barrett to play a role this year, but amid the team’s string of serious injuries in 2020, including Bosa going down in Week 2 with a cruciate ligament tear, Barrett got another modest chance and stepped in seven games.

Then, in 2021, when the 49ers D-Line was relatively strong again, Barrett was relegated to the practice squad again.

Should we expect the same for him again in 2022?

Why Alex Barrett is finally breaking out for the 49ers in 2022

“Breaking out” might be a relative term here, but let’s look at it from Barrett’s perspective: having a chance to make the game day list week after week.

Barrett’s 6-foot-2, 250-pound frame is more of an outside linebacker build than a center back, so you’d think he could be a situational edge-rusher at best. It’s important to note that he had one 4.97 40-yard time during his 2017 pro dayso speed is on his side in that regard.

And back to this 2020 campaign, two quarterback hits on 119 defensive snaps isn’t quite a terrible number.

With the 49ers losing defensive end Arden Key and soon parting ways with EDGE Dee Ford, Barrett’s path to a regular roster spot may now be a little clearer.

Why Alex Barrett will remain an afterthought of the 49ers in 2022

Despite the loss of Key and eventual departure from Ford, Barrett still has a long way to go to break the 53-man list.

More on that in a moment, but one way or another we’ve now looked at five full years with Barrett in the NFL ranks. And while he’s flashed promising signs here and there, the harsh reality is that he’s likely little more than a fringe player, capable of popping up in a few training camp practice reports and possibly making a handful of games during preseason games .

Read more: Ranking of the 3 strongest positions in the 49ers after the 2022 draft

That being said, he’s likely a scout team player during the regular season only to be called up in the event of a string of injuries, as was the case in 2020.

Chances Alex Barrett is in the 53-man 49ers roster

Just like his prospects of surviving roster cuts following the preseason a year ago when the Niners’ D-line was almost completely healthy, Barrett’s hopes of playing above the practice team in 2022 are slim.

Sure, Key and Ford won’t play an obstacle role, but San Francisco opted to bring on board former Indianapolis Colts EDGE Kemoko Turay while also using a second-round NFL draft pick on USC EDGE Drake Jackson.

Two players out, two new players in. The number of D-linemen Barrett would have to beat at camp hasn’t changed at all.

Granted, the 49ers seem to appreciate Barrett’s deep role for what it is, and they’ve shown that by retaining him in one form or another from 2019’s Fame, These Are Important Roles.

Barrett seems to embody that, and it’s likely where he’ll go again in 2022.

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