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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Shanahan: 49ers D-lineman Kerry Hyder Jr. might have been named ‘Camp MVP’ if the award existed

Oct 3, 2020 at 10:50 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers have suffered some devastating losses along the defensive line. The team entered the season with Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.

Then, in Week 2, the 49ers were devastated by injuries. Along the defensive line, the team lost former first-round picks Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas to season-ending injuries in the span of three plays.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan sees a bright side, though. The losses have allowed others to step up until reinforcements like Blair and Taylor return. One of those players is 10th-year defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr., a favorite of defensive line coach Kris Kocurek. The two previously worked together with the Detroit Lions.

"So, Kerry, Kocurek's been talking about him forever," defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said in August. "I would equate the man-crush I have on Ronnie Blair to Kocurek's man-crush with Kerry. Not to say that Kocurek doesn't love all his D-Linemen, but Kerry is a very reliable, not at grunt work, but he will get dirty. He'll get grimy. He can rush the passer. He can do a lot of different things. You can ask him to do a lot of different things."

Those words from Saleh came during training camp. You can also count head coach Kyle Shanahan among those who were impressed by Hyder over the summer. According to Pro Football Reference, the defensive lineman has since racked up 14 tackles, two sacks, and six quarterback hits through three games.

"He's been impressive since the first day he got here," Shanahan told NBC Sports this week. "If I gave out awards for (training) camp MVPs, he definitely would have been up there. He looked like that in practice every day. Not a huge name and stuff, so got a lot of people (who) don't know a lot about him coming in. But we noticed him right away in practice, just the plays he was making and stuff.

"You wonder if it's just practice or what it is, then he's carried it over three weeks in a row in the games. It's helped us out a ton. Especially with the injuries we've had in the last three weeks."

San Francisco signed Hyder to a one-year deal in March. He has been filling in for Blair's role and a whole lot more because of the injuries suffered.

"Just coming into the season, knowing we weren't going to get Ronald Blair, keeping him on PUP, [Hyder] kind of plays a similar role we were looking into," Shanahan continued. "And that's had to come way up to some starter roles at times with the losses and everything. That's kind of how Ronnie was for us at times.

"Now we've got Kerry here doing the same thing, and it's really helped us, and we definitely need it because we have lost guys, and it's very important out D-line plays at a high level."

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