49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek knows there are high expectations for his group in 2019, but his mindset will stay the same as it has since junior high: Bring it like your hair is on fire. 

You can hear Kocurek’s voice above the amplified music at practice when his group is working on the sleds. It may not last through the long days of training camp, but he’s been like this since he can remember. 

“That’s just kind of the way I’ve always been,” Kocurek said. “Kind of going all the way back to when I started lacing them up in middle school football. Put my cleats on, walked out on the field, heart started racing, started sweating, and just hit it with my hair on fire, going as fast as I can go, as hard as I can go.” 

Kocurek believes that his group still needs to take it one day at a time, but he does have certain qualities he wants to see from his players. 

“Aggressive, physical,” Kocurek said. “A group that you see four d-linemen on the field pursuing the ball wherever it’s at on the field. Trying to be the hardest playing position group in the National Football League. That’s what we strive for every single day.

“A group that plays together. A group that’s unselfish and just a group that you see when they’re on the field they’re playing with their hair on fire.”  


Even though DeForest Buckner had a breakout season in 2018, there was a lot left on the field in regards to a pass rush. The front office addressed the issue by signing edge rusher Dee Ford and drafting Nick Bosa. Kocurek watched film before he was hired and saw the potential of the group. 

“I saw a talented front guys with a lot of versatility that can be used in different spots according to different situations,” Kocurek said. “And I saw a tough group that played physical. I thought they played hard and it’s one of the reasons they brought me here.”  

Kocurek is known for using the wide-nine front where the defensive end is lined up further outside giving him a little more room. That won’t be the only scheme they use, but he explained why he believes in it. 

"The edge setting ability,” Kocurek said. “The teams that want to get on your perimeter, you can set that physical edge in the run game and it does give you a little bit better angle to rush the passer on first and second down.”  

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One is certain, Kocurek’s intensity will not waiver. As long as his voice lasts, it will be heard above the music and the sound of players hitting the sleds in Santa Clara. 

“I try to bring the energy out there at practice,” Kocurek said. “I don’t necessarily think the players always need it. Sometimes during the dog-days, they might need it and I’m going try to bring it as much as I can.”