The Green Bay Packers have identified a weakness on the defensive line, and general manager Ted Thompson reportedly won't look past free agency to fix it.
In addition to having interest in free-agent defensive linemen Chris Canty and Cullen Jenkins, the Packers are also reported to be looking into Ricky Jean-Francois of the San Francisco 49ers.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the interest.
"A source said the Packers have expressed interest in Jean-Francois, who would become an unrestricted free agent March 12 if he isn't re-signed by the 49ers," McGinn wrote.
A seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2009, Jean-Francois has developed into a trusted backup for San Francisco at all three defensive line positions. He has 49 career tackles and three sacks over 51 games (five starts).
The Packers likely need help at the position because of Jerel Worthy, who is recovering from ACL surgery and might not be ready for the start of the 2013 season.
At 6-3 and 295 pounds, Jean-Francois would represent more of a run-stuffing defensive end than a pocket-collapser. While McGinn had Jean-Francois down for 18 pressures last season, Pro Football Focus gave him credit for just two sacks and two hurries (four quarterback disruptions) over 328 snaps. He graded out at -3.8 on pass rushing but +4.2 in run defense.
"Solid in-line run defender," a personnel executive told McGinn. "Average pass rusher. He'd add good 3-4 defensive end depth and potential base-down starter as a five-technique 'dirty work' player. I'd prefer him more in the rotation than as a (starter)."
Zach Kruse is a 24-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV, Bleacher Report and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He also covers prep sports for the Dunn Co. News. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at email@example.com.