Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

DT Zach Kerr gushes over 49ers defense, D-Line: ‘Most talented group I’ve been a part of’

Aug 23, 2021 at 8:11 AM--

Having played with the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Carolina Panthers over the first seven years of his NFL career, 49ers defensive tackle Zach Kerr has had the opportunity to team up with quite a few talented players. But nothing compares to the level of talent he's currently a part of on the 49ers defensive line, and it sounds like he feels the 49ers defense is a unique and special group as well.

Kerr, who signed with the 49ers on a one-year deal in March, spoke with reporters after Sunday night's 15-10 preseason win over the Chargers about what he's seen from his new team to this point. When asked if he's been a part of another defensive line that's as deep and talented as the one he's on now, Kerr didn't mince words when giving an answer.

"Nope. Not even close, man," said Kerr, who had two tackles and a quarterback hit against the Chargers and has 167 tackles, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles over the course of his career. "And that's kind of what I tell everybody when they ask me about the team and our room. It's easily the most talented group I've ever been a part of, the deepest D-Line I've ever been a part of. That's a testament to the guys that are upstairs working to get us all in one place and allowing us to be great and allowing us to finish together and play together."

Kerr is part of a mix of talented veterans and youngsters that includes Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, D.J. Jones, Kentavius Street, Samson Ebukam, Maurice Hurst, Jordan Willis, Arden Key, Darrion Daniels, Eddie Yarbrough, Alex Barrett, and Shilique Calhoun. The appeal of playing with that group was a big reason Kerr said yes to the 49ers when they showed interest in bringing him aboard.

"That was one of the reasons I decided to come here," Kerr said. "You look at the team, you look the history of the 49ers. A couple years ago they were in the big game. Injuries killed them the year after. Then you look at them rebuilding -- not rebuilding, but building their roster back up, trying to get back to that spot -- for me it was kind of like a no-brainer when they gave us a call."

Kerr has also been impressed with the pace and speed he sees on display at 49ers practice under new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. He said Sunday night that the speed stands out compared to what he's seen with other teams.

"Absolutely. I can't stress it enough," Kerr said. "It's probably going to sound a little bit cheesy, but this is like the best, the fastest, the most everything as far as this defense and the defensive line goes. It's really crazy to see at practice. I think that's important because we all feed off that and it keeps us going. But it's actually -- it's fun. It's scary."

Also making an impression on Kerr has been the attitude of the team in general. Kerr has been a part of some teams that expect to win, and he's seeing it once again in a 49ers team that burns to return to the Super Bowl after earning a spot in the game two seasons prior.

"It's a team that wants to win," Kerr said. "The guys in the locker room are dedicated, and you can see that every day. It's go hard or bust every day. That's stuff I love to be around."

Of course, the only downside to having a defensive line with this much talent is that not all of them will make the final roster. Which of them makes the final cut remains to be seen, and it's even possible Kerr winds up being one of those on the outside looking in. But Kerr feels everyone in the defensive line group is good enough to be on an NFL roster, whether it's with the 49ers or some other team. Chances are there will be another team that is quick to scoop up the players who get cut from the 49ers' defensive line, but the drive to make the final roster is something that fuels the players involved each day.

"To answer your question, yes," Kerr said Sunday when asked if he felt all the defensive linemen were good enough to make an NFL roster. "Not everyone in the room knows that, and that's what keeps everybody going. We feed off that, but nobody talks about it. You're the first person that I'm talking to about it. We know what it is and everybody knows that that's the truth, the reality of the business and the reality of the game. But it keeps everybody going. If one guy's not feeling it that day and you kind of can tell, the next guy's like, 'Hey bro, come on, let's go.' And that's what you need in a room like that. We ain't got no haters. Everybody wants everybody to be successful. And that's the cool thing about this position group that we've got -- everybody likes each other. It's really cool to be a part of."

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