San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis will serve a six-game suspension without pay to start the 2021 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, the team announced on Thursday. Willis can continue to participate in offseason practices, training camp and the preseason.
A third-round pick in the 2017 draft, Willis spent his first two seasons in Cincinnati before being claimed off of waivers by the Jets at the start of the 2019 season. He was then traded from New York to San Francisco during the first half of the 2020 season. Despite appearing in just nine games in 2020, Willis recorded a career-high 2.5 sacks. The 49ers signed him to a one-year deal during the first month of free agency.
While he isn't a starter, Willis proved to be a solid depth player behind Dee Ford and Arik Armstead. With Willis' absence will create more opportunity for Daeshon Hall, a four-year veteran who spent the previous two seasons with the Eagles.
A team that was ravaged by injuries last season, the 49ers recently dealt with two injuries during OTAs that appear to be season-ending. Offensive lineman Justin Skule suffered an ACL injury earlier this month, while safety Tarvarius Moore tore his Achilles.
The 2019 NFC champions are coming off of a 6-10 season in 2020. While the 49ers are bringing back many of their key players who were hurt during the 2020 season, former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh left this offseason to become the Jets next head coach. The 49ers have replaced Saleh with DeMeco Ryans, a former All-Pro NFL linebacker who joined the 49ers' staff in 2017.