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49ers coach explains why Armstead-replacement Maliek Collins is a perfect D-line fit

Jun 12, 2024 at 10:06 AM


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The San Francisco 49ers faced a tough financial decision this offseason. Unable to negotiate a salary reduction with defensive tackle Arik Armstead, who had struggled with injuries in recent years, the team decided to part ways with the longtime Niner.

To mitigate the loss of Armstead, the 49ers traded a seventh-round draft pick to the Houston Texans for defensive tackle Maliek Collins. San Francisco's defensive line coach, Kris Kocurek, recently discussed the addition of Collins and what he likes about the defensive lineman.

"I really liked him coming out of Nebraska — just the explosion that he can generate through his lower body," Kocurek told Matt Barrows of The Athletic. "He jumps off the tape. He can play in the backfield, he can re-create the line of scrimmage and he's really athletic on the back side to make plays. And then it's the ability to manipulate things in the pass rush — you know, get a guard to lean one way and then beat him another."

The Dallas Cowboys made Collins a third-round draft pick (No. 67 overall) out of Nebraska in 2016. Through 16 starts with the Texans last season, he registered 41 tackles, including eight for a loss, 18 quarterback hits, five sacks, and a pass defensed, according to Pro Football Reference.

Upon joining the 49ers, Collins was asked what excites him about working with Kocurek.

"It was just his passion that he brings to the game, how he's all about getting a dub, and he wants to [have] the most productive defensive line, and he wants to be number one in everything," Collins shared. "That's something that I want to come in, I want to contribute to, and I'm excited to be coached and coach hard."

When asked about replacing Armstead, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Collins responded, "I don't think you replace a player like Arik Armstead, the person that he is in the community, the person that he is on the field. I don't think you replace that. I'm just here to add my skill set and bring who I am to the table."

Collins' five sacks last season matched his career-high, and the 49ers hope to get even more production out of the 29-year-old under Kocurek's guidance. Collins' experience within the Texans' system under head coach DeMeco Ryans, the 49ers' former defensive coordinator, will benefit the defensive lineman as he transitions to the Bay Area team.

"I've always liked his skill set," Kocurek said of Collins. "I think his skill set is tailor-made to play the attack-style nature we play. And he's played in some attack schemes throughout his career last year. He was down there in Houston, so there will be a lot of familiarity from working with DeMeco and those guys in Houston and then coming here and doing very similar type things."
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