Home US SportsNFL How Staley’s endorsement of Floyd sold 49ers’ Kocurek on free agent

How Staley’s endorsement of Floyd sold 49ers’ Kocurek on free agent

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How Staley’s endorsement of Floyd sold 49ers’ Kocurek on free agent originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SANTA CLARA — Leonard Floyd, who signed a two-year, $20 million 49ers contract this offseason, appears to be set for a significant role on San Francisco‘s revamped defensive front.

Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek explained Wednesday why the veteran pass rusher was a priority free agent for the 49ers.

“The experience he brings to the table through the different schemes and the different places that he has played,” Kocurek said. “You can tell that he’s a pro’s pro. And then the athleticism, the explosion and the length. His ability to cover ground quickly, his knowledge as a pass rusher and understanding of how to get to the quarterback.”

The 49ers have been looking for an edge rusher to play opposite of Nick Bosa since Dee Ford’s San Francisco tenure came to a premature end in the middle of the 2021 season due to a lingering neck injury.

Floyd has a proven track record but also comes highly recommended by former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who took a role with the 49ers during the offseason. The newly anointed assistant head coach has a history with Floyd from their time together with the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams, and it made an even bigger believer out of Kocurek.

“We connected on it,” Kocurek said of his conversations with Staley. “Just hearing the conviction on Brandon’s side of it. The player, the person, the love for the game and the skill set. Obviously it draws you more into it when you get the full picture. The endorsement that Brandon gave was huge in the evaluation process.”

Floyd has yet to receive Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors but over the past four seasons, he has averaged 10 sacks per season. No 49ers player other than Nick Bosa has had a 10-sack season since 2019 when now-Jacksonville Jaguars Arik Armstead hit the mark.

Floyd, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2026 NFL Draft, has registered 58 sacks in his eight-year career, along with 370 tackles — 228 solo and 63 for a loss. He has also shown incredible durability, not having missed a game since 2016.

“[Floyd] is obviously a proven pass rusher,” Kocurek said. “And then just the love that he has for the game. He’s like a sponge. Even though he’s been in the NFL for a while, he’s continuously a detail oriented person who wants to get it exactly right, and works. And if he doesn’t get it right, he’s going to get right back in line to get another rep to get it right.”

Kocurek’s players generally line up in a three-point stance but Floyd will not be restricted to that style. Similar to Ford in the past, Floyd will play both with one hand in the dirt on specific pass rush scenarios with the option to be upright as well.

While in Buffalo, Floyd played about 50 percent of the snaps in a three-point stance as opposed to his time with the Rams where he played more two-point.

“Any time a player is really good at something, I’d be an idiot to totally take it away from him and say, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Kocurek said. “He’s excelled out of a two-point in his career. Throughout my years I’ve had guys that were always known as hand in the dirt defense, but then you get a unique skill set that can excel from a two-point stance, and do really good things from a two-point stance, you don’t want to just take that away from a player.”

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