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Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Robert Saleh understands Kris Kocurek’s man-crush on 49ers D-lineman Kerry Hyder

Aug 19, 2020 at 7:00 AM--

San Francisco 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is a big fan of Kerry Hyder. He coached the defensive lineman for three seasons with the Detroit Lions. Hyder's best season by far came under Kocurek in 2016 when the now-29-year-old defender racked up eight sacks to go along with his 36 tackles.

The 49ers signed Hyder to a one-year deal in March, and Kocurek was probably ecstatic. He probably fought to get him to Santa Clara.

When Kocurek loves a player, he doesn't let up. That much was made evident leading up to the draft when the assistant coach pushed to add Javon Kinlaw. Kocurek, after all, was stuck at home with his wife and a newborn, changing diapers and watching film of Kinlaw.

"He sends us pictures of him (Kinlaw, not his newborn) every day," Shanahan said in April, "and I have to keep asking, 'Are you watching anyone else?' He said, 'No, this is the guy.'"

Kocurek was probably the same way about Hyder, whose versatility makes him a valuable reserve for the 49ers talented defensive line.

"So, Kerry, Kocurek's been talking about him forever," defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said on Tuesday. "I would equate the man-crush I have on Ronnie Blair to Kocurek's man-crush with Kerry."

For anyone who follows the 49ers with a passion, you know that says a lot. Saleh has made his feelings about Ronald Blair very clear.

"If you like winning, you like Ronnie Blair," Saleh said last offseason. "If you don't like winning, then you don't like him."

The admiration between Kocurek and Hyder doesn't go just one way. The defensive lineman is equally enthusiastic about his coach.

"He's just kind of been with me since I was a pup," Hyder said of the coach on Tuesday, "when I was on practice squad and working my way through the league. He was there for me, and he's been coaching me up for a long time. So I guess we're comfortable with each other."

Added Hyder: "You've got to understand he just wants the best for you, and the best for the team."

None of that is to say that Kocurek doesn't love all of his defensive linemen. Saleh wanted to make that clear. The coach went on to share what Hyder brings to the 49ers defense.

"He'll get grimy. He can rush the passer," Saleh continued. "He can do a lot of different things. You can ask him to do a lot of different things. So, we're excited that Kerry's here, and he's made a great first impression."

The versatile Hyder started his NFL career as an interior defender, but it was Kocurek who recommended a move to defensive end. Where Hyder plays, though, doesn't matter to him.

"I've always considered myself a defensive lineman, and not an inside (or) outside guy," Hyder said. "I try to get in where I fit in, and adding versatility to a group is just kind of what I've been able to do."

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