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49ers ‘ecstatic’ to have Javon Hargrave on their side to bolster pass rush

AP Pro Football Writer

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Trent Williams had seen more than enough of Javon Hargrave in San Francisco’s NFC title game loss at Philadelphia to know what kind of impact he can have as an interior pass rusher.

So when the All-Pro tackle found out this offseason that Hargrave was joining the 49ers’ stellar defense, he was overjoyed about the possibilities.

“We know what he can do,” Williams said Wednesday. “I was ecstatic that we don’t have to see him on the other sideline again. That guy’s a heck of a playmaker. It sometimes seems unreal that we got a player like that to add to the type of defense we have. But I said it before, I’ll say it again, those guys up in the front office, they work magic. So we add another playmaker, another great player to the defense. I’m just eager to see him this season.”

The Niners signed Hargrave to a four-year, $84 million contract this offseason to strengthen an already talented defensive front that featured Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa on the edge, Arik Armstead inside and a slew of other talented pass rushers.

Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek had been highlighting Hargrave’s pass-rush skills to his own players in recent years and now is eager to see what he can do for San Francisco’s pass rush.

“I think the last couple of years in Philly, he’s really separated himself from a lot of the other interior players in the game, especially from a pass rush standpoint,” Kocurek said. “There’s only a couple guys in the NFL that’s won at a rate that he’s won. Everybody knows our philosophy on d-linemen here at the Niners, the more the merrier, especially the talented more is even better.”

The 30-year-old Hargrave is coming off his most productive season in seven years as a pro with a career-high 11 sacks to help Philadelphia reach the Super Bowl after beating the Niners in the NFC championship game.

Hargrave ranked fourth among all interior pass rushers with 57 quarterback pressures last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and provides a big upgrade on one of the few weak spots on San Francisco’s defense that was ranked first in the NFL.

Armstead led the Niners interior rushers with 20 pressures last regular season but had no sacks in nine games.

The 49ers had been hoping for 2020 first-round pick Javon Kinlaw to anchor their interior after trading away star DeForest Buckner following the 2019 season. But Kinlaw has been slowed by knee injuries that have limited him to 24 games in three seasons and has been ineffective when he played.

“Last year was kind of a revolving door on the interior with the injuries we had,” Bosa said. “Guys were coming in and playing snaps and games after being in here for a week. That’s just not ideal for our scheme.”

Adding Hargarve to that group is just what the Niners need if they want to go from a strong pass rush back to the dominant one they had in 2019 when they had Buckner and Armstead inside.

“He’s a top guy,” Bosa said about Hargrave. “I feel like people give him his due, but people don’t really know how good he is overall. I feel like he isn’t quite talked about in the Aaron Donald top echelon, Chris Jones, but I think he played like that last year and throughout his career. Him and Arik inside and such should be pretty fun.”

NOTES: Trey Lance got the work with the first team at practice the day after Sam Darnold did. The two have been splitting time as Brock Purdy works his way back from elbow surgery. Purdy is throwing on the side about three days a week. … Rookie K Jake Moody made a 63-yard field goal with room to spare at practice.


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