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Javon Hargrave ready to kick in doors with 49ers

Mar 21, 2023 at 1:43 PM

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Javon Hargrave earned a 91.1 overall Pro Football Focus grade against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. It was his second-highest grade of the season (91.5, Week 18 vs. Giants). His 92.9 pass-rush grade was also his second-highest of the season (93.1, Week 10 vs. Commanders). The Philadelphia Eagles recorded 20 total pressures that afternoon. Five came via Hargrave, tying Haason Reddick's five for the game lead.

Hargrave's season pass-rush grade of 91.1 (regular season and playoffs) was surpassed by only two interior defensive linemen—Dexter Lawrence and Chris Jones—and it wasn't even the Eagles defensive tackle's best career pass-rush grade. That came a season earlier in 2021 when he earned a 91.6 mark, the pinnacle of steadily improving pass-rush grades since his NFL debut.

Hargrave recorded one of the team's three sacks against the 49ers and was responsible for a game-leading four quarterback hurries. It was an impressive performance by the player nicknamed "Grave Digger." For 49ers general manager John Lynch, it was enough to convince him what his team needed to do in the offseason.

Much to the surprise of the defensive tackle, the 49ers aggressively pursued Hargrave in free agency, signing him to a four-year deal worth up to $84 million. He joins a defensive line that includes Arik Armstead and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa.

What does Hargrave believe he brings to the 49ers?

"I just feel like I'm violent," the new 49ers defensive tackle told team reporter Lindsey Pallares after signing his new four-year contract. "I don't know. I can say so much. I got a motor. I know how to get after the quarterback. And I think that's all they're big on, is getting after the quarterback and stopping the run, and I think that fits me well."

One returning 49ers player remembers what it was like preparing to face Hargrave in that NFC title game, and the word "motor" came up in his evaluation of the defensive lineman.

"I feel like it's really hard to find a guy in the interior D-line that has the motor that he has and the drive to finish that he has," center Jake Brendel recently told NBC Sports Bay Area. "And he also is just a fantastic pass rusher. You don't really see guys that have—other than Aaron Donald—you don't see guys in the A and B gaps really have a multifaceted rush move repertoire.

"He will look a certain way on one play or one drive, and then he'll look like a completely different player on the next play or the next drive, and it's really hard to kind of get a beat on him and expect what he's going to do next just because of how many moves and how many rush techniques he can bring at you."

While Hargrave had another suitor in the Cleveland Browns, the defensive lineman's playoff encounter with the 49ers made his free-agency decision easy.

"We knew that was a great team," Hargrave shared. "We went into the game knowing that was going to be a tough game for us. So even then, that's why I said it was real easy for me because I knew how good the defense was when we played them. We had a great offense, and I just seen the things they were doing against our offense that made [us] know that they was a real special team and a special defense."

Kicking in doors

Hargrave has a unique sack celebration. He outlines a door with his hands and then kicks in the imaginary obstacle. You can see the celebration below.

"It's something I kind of took from one of my old teammates and made it my own," Hargrave explained. "He didn't really do it as much, but once I started doing it, it just became my thing. Once you get the sack, you draw the door because it's hard to get sacks in the league. So once you draw the door, you just come in and kick the door down. Like, I finally got in."

Eager to check out some basketball

Hargrave is a self-proclaimed foodie. So naturally, he is eager to explore and take in the tastes of the Bay Area. Other than the food and better weather, what is Hargrave most looking forward to now that he is in the Bay Area for the foreseeable future?

"I'm a big Steph Curry fan, so as soon as I signed, I was thinking, Oh yeah, I got to go to a game and be able to see that in person because I never been to a Golden State Warriors game before," Hargrave admitted.
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