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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

49ers coach reveals strategic plans for Leonard Floyd

Jun 15, 2024 at 9:23 AM

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Leonard Floyd was the San Francisco 49ers' biggest offseason addition, providing a pass-rushing presence to complement All-Pro Nick Bosa.

"I believe our skill sets will complement each other well," Floyd said after signing with the 49ers in free agency. "We both been guys who've been getting sacks in this league. I'm just going to come in and do my job, do my part, and that's to come in to help him affect the game and get pressure on the quarterback."

Last month, after reporting for organized team activities, Bosa shared his early impressions of Floyd, saying, "I think he's a super-skilled rusher, good length, and he's more athletic than I even realized. And I think guys like him, when they come to our scheme, the best is brought out of them.

"So I'm excited to see what potential he has. He's year nine, so I feel like, as a D-lineman, you can keep improving all the way through 10 years in this league, so I'm excited to see what he's got."

Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek told Matt Barrows of The Athletic that he already had some familiarity with Floyd, having met with him at his Georgia pro day ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft. Kocurek, with the Detroit Lions at the time, spent time with the draft hopeful before and after the workout, growing to appreciate the player's skill set.

"I thought he was the most explosive rusher in the draft," Kocurek told Barrows. "As I've said in the past, anybody that's caught my eye — that I really thought had the talent to play in our scheme — I keep up with them in the NFL. And things always circled back around. And it's circled back around with him. I've always kept an eye on him and just really liked the way he played the game — the love, the passion and the talent behind it."

Now, Kocurek finally has a chance to coach the player he admired, offering hints about how the 49ers defense might deploy Floyd.

"Last year in Buffalo, he played 50-50 between a two-point and a three-point stance," Kocurek stated. "In L.A. (with the Rams), it was more of a two-point deal. Early in his career in Chicago, he was more of a two-point player. We'll do a little bit of both with him."

Kocurek noted that when Dee Ford joined the 49ers, he primarily played out of a two-point stance. However, with the 49ers, he was asked to put his hand in the ground in certain situations. That will be the case with Floyd, too.

This doesn't mean Kocurek will completely eliminate what has made Floyd so successful in the past. After all, the veteran pass rusher has recorded at least nine sacks in each of his past four seasons, including two seasons with 10.5 sacks each.

"Sometimes, we'll stand him up like you saw Dee Ford in '19 and '20, standing up on the edge," Kocurek said. "Anytime a player is really good at something, I'd be an idiot to take it away from him and say, 'You can't do that.' We're always known as a hand-in-the-dirt defense, but when you have a unique skill set that can excel from a two-point stance, you don't want to just totally take that away from a player."
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