The San Francisco 49ers have officially welcomed in two new members of the 2022 roster, finalizing their contracts in a span of 24 hours.
And the moves are expected to bolster two significant needs for the franchise: Special team returns through the addition of Ray-Ray McCloud and the interior defensive line with Hassan Ridgeway. Here’s a further dive into their contracts and their value to S.F.
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McCloud Contract Worth More Than a Year With More Than $10 Million Attached
The return ace McCloud struck gold with a team known for gold.
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network first reported on Thursday, March 17 that the former Pittsburgh Steelers return man was set to make as many as $10.4 million with his deal.
The ‘Niners officially welcomed in McCloud with this rhyme: Ray-Ray in the Bay:
The 5-foot-9, 190-pounder will be with his fourth NFL franchise since coming into the league in 2018 as a sixth rounder (No. 187 to the Buffalo Bills). Following a stop with the Carolina Panthers, McCloud saw his numbers and action grow in the Steel City.
He leaves Pittsburgh with 1,422 kick return yards and 665 through punt returns per Pro Football Reference. But he’s reflective of this flaw he admitted: Doing too much with the ball, which he shared when talking to the Bay Area media on Monday, March 21.
“The times I have made mistakes (as a punt returner), I’m trying to make the big play instead of the 10- to 15-yard play,” McCloud said via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Me and (head) coach (Mike) Tomlin talked about it and said, ‘Let’s be unselfish and take the 10 yards instead of something bigger.’ Those times I have made mistakes in my career. (I’m) trying to make something out of nothing. Sometimes, I’ve got to take what’s given.”
He’s expected to improve a return game that, as a team, averaged 8.2 punt return yards and 18.9 yards per kick return.
But outside of returns, he could add a needed slot receiver presence to take pressure off of Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
“I feel like I’m a playmaker. I’m explosive. I don’t think there’s a more explosive offense as far as putting playmakers in space as the Niners,” McCloud said via David Lombardi of The Athletic.
McCloud has 64 receptions for 390 yards in his career — but posted career highs in both categories (39 catches for 277 yards) last season.
Ridgeway to Bring a ‘Nose’ Presence to 49ers Defense
The now former Philadelphia Eagles defender Ridgeway is on a lighter deal compared to McCloud: One year for $1.8 million.
However, while the 27-year-old Ridgeway played in the Eastern time zone and played his college football at the University of Texas, he’s got Bay Area roots: He was born in Oakland and lived in Richmond.
“Having a family around here definitely played a big part in being comfortable and being familiar with the area,” Ridgeway told 49ers reporter Keiana Martin.
But outside of his Bay Area homecoming, Ridgeway shared what else intrigued him about the 49ers.
“The team, the defense, the coach, I mean those are the top three right there,” Ridgeway said. “It’s a great place to be.”
The 6-foot-3, 305-pounder is expected to fill the nose tackle spot vacated by D.J. Jones given his girth and ability to control the middle.
During his Eagles stint, Ridgeway appeared in 65 games including 12 starts and registered 80 tackles, 9.5 sacks, one pass defensed and one forced fumble. Ridgeway has also appeared in three postseason contests and added four tackles and 0.5 sacks for Philly.