clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

5 things to know about new Chiefs defensive lineman Charles Omenihu

A 49ers’ perspective on what Kansas City is getting in the defensive lineman.

NFL: JAN 29 NFC Championship - 49ers at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After first addressing the offensive line in free agency, the Kansas City Chiefs followed up by moving along to the other side of the trenches, with general manager Brett Veach signing former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Charles Omenihu.

The 25-year-old Omenihu (he'll be 26 in August) fits well with the Chiefs thanks to his versatility to play inside and outside, something he discussed during his first press opportunity with local Kansas City media.

“I can rush inside, can rush outside and rush over center — whatever you need me to do. I’ve shown that I can do it throughout my career,” he said. “I think the versatility is what I bring to the table — a guy that’s going to play hard, very much I just want to stuff the run because I know when you play the run well, you can have some fun [by] rushing the quarterback.”

That attitude should play into defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and defensive line coach Joe Cullen's system, but let's dive a little deeper. To do that, we sent some questions to Niners Nation writer Kyle Posey.

1 - How would you recap Omenihu's time with the 49ers?

POSEY: Omenihu came to the Bay Area with little to no expectations in November 2021. He made his presence felt in the playoffs with a forced fumble against the Dallas Cowboys, but he took off this past season.

Despite only starting two games, Omenihu played starter snaps. He was available, consistent and never seemed to slow down. Omenihu’s pressure numbers tell the story of how productive he was. Yes, he played opposite of Nick Bosa, but that doesn’t or hasn’t necessarily equated to success.

There have been a handful of edge rushers opposite of Bosa, but Omenihu, for my money, was far and away the most talented. For a young player, you want to see gradual improvement. Omenihu cruised past gradual by after having back-to-back games with five pressures in Week 5.

I’d call Omenihu’s tenure a pleasant surprise.

2 - How do 49ers fans feel about the team not retaining him?

POSEY: Because we’ve seen names like Kerry Hyder, Arden Key and others have success, leave, and not hear much from them since, fans assume that Omenihu will fall into the same category. But those players didn’t receive the deal that Omenihu did, nor were they as productive.

The big one, for me, is his age. Omenihu is 25 and had a breakout season in what was effectively his first full year with the 49ers. Will he have another season where he finishes in the top 10 in pressure stats and win rates? It’s unlikely, but it’s not far-fetched.

So there was a mixed bag about Omenihu leaving, but most of the fans who were dismissive pointed to previous players that were unrelated to Omenihu’s season.

3 - What are his strengths?

POSEY: Omenihu is relentless. And he’s the type of pass rusher that takes advantage of mismatches. The 49ers kicked him inside, and that’s where Omenihu flourished. Guards weren’t in the same stratosphere athletically as him, and that’s how he racked up a ton of pressures last season.

There’s speed, strength and a motor, but Omenihu’s athleticism is his greatest strength and a tool that’s difficult to stop.

4 - What are his weaknesses?

POSEY: There were times when Omenihu would miss a tackle as he attempted to chase a player down. His run defense is “fine,” but if he’s your starter on the edge, that’s probably the area he’ll need to improve the most.

5 - Anything to know about him off the field?

POSEY: Omenihu was arrested for misdemeanor domestic violence during the playoffs this past season. It came on the Monday following a game, although he would suit up the following Sunday.

Pete's take: Posey's comments read awfully similar to those from JP Acosta in Wednesday's post discussing Jawaan Taylor. The general theme here is — like Taylor — Omenihu is young, coming off his most improved season, and there does not seem to be a cap on what the Chiefs may get out of him. Posey noted that Omenihu might be a liability in run defense if he was the starter along the edge, but over the past few years, Kansas City has been building a defensive line that loves to mix and match. I think Cullen will lean into Omenihu's ability to move inside and outside, and though he may see starter snaps in quantity, it won't necessarily mean he is always on the outside. When he is, I suspect he might be an upgrade over the released Frank Clark (especially during the regular season).

Posey's tone is bullish on Omenihu, almost disappointed that San Francisco could not retain his services. Kansas City likes Omenihu's arm length (the 36-inch number falls in the 98 percentile for defensive ends) — and a player motivated by another big-time payday (in two years' time) is never a bad thing, either.

Related reading

Arrowhead Pride Premier

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Arrowhead Pride Premier, with exclusive updates from Pete Sweeney on the ground at Arrowhead, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Chiefs analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.