New 49ers D-line coach Kris Kocurek might be right amount of crazy

New 49ers D-line coach Kris Kocurek might be right amount of crazy

During position drills at the beginning of each 49ers practice, defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s gravelly voice can be heard from across the practice field. His antics may be seen as crazy to some, but to many of the players, it’s just the kind of crazy they need. 

At Arik Armstead’s Charity Gala in Sacramento during the offseason, several defensive players spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area about Kocurek and what he brings to the defensive line room. DeForest Buckner explained that Kocurek’s brand of crazy meshes perfectly with their group.

“We all got to be crazy to play this game,” Buckner said. “I’m just going to say that. We all got to have that little crazy in us. He’s a perfect fit for our room.

“It’s about consistency. He’s the same guy every day. We all know he’s passionate in everything he does. All he wants is to see is us succeed, so we respect it, we love it, we feed off of it when we go out there and practice. We want to be the best that we can be every day. That’s what he expects from us, that’s the standard and he’s just an amazing coach.”  

Armstead is heading into his fifth NFL season and notes that Kocurek has brought a new energy into the room. 

“It’s been great,” Armstead said. “He’s an amazing coach. He’s really passionate about the game, he wants us to be successful. He does seem a little crazy, but in a good way. He’s really motivating and pushing us to reach our full potential and be the best we can be. We’re really excited to have him and have him leading us.”  

Fellow lineman Ronald Blair detailed that what Kocurek brings isn’t just about football. He is helping the group in all aspects of their lives. 

“It really just changes the outlook for all of us as young guys,” Blair said. “He’s bringing something different. It’s not just about football with him. It’s about outside life, it’s about dealing with your family, it’s about everything that you put in, to just get to this point. 

“I’m just grateful to have him as a coach. He’s already done numbers in just the month or two being here. I've got nothing but respect for him. I’m looking forward to the future with him.”  

Defensive tackle Sheldon Day explained how Kocurek's intensity has changed the mood of the 49ers' defense line.

“He’s changed our room completely,” Day said. “He’s made us be more competitive with each other than we ever have been before. Every day is a competition, everyday we want to be our best, every day we’ve got to be better than the day before. 

"He’s making sure we stay on task, he’s making sure that we detail our work. He’s just bringing the best out of us. We’re definitely grateful to have him in the room.”  

Richard Sherman might not be a defensive lineman, but he already has seen a change in the defensive line group since Kocurek arrived. Kocurek’s yelling might seem brash to outsiders, but Sherman believes it’s specific and purposeful. 

“I've never met a person great at anything who wasn’t a little crazy,” Sherman said. “People look at the yelling and screaming as a negative thing. It’s not like he’s just yelling and screaming at guys, and that’s the difference between him and a lot of coaches who kind of take that style. 

“He’s yelling techniques. He’s yelling 'get off.' He’s yelling run to the ball. He’s not yelling M.F. and cursing at guys for making mistakes, he’s just yelling effort. The effort he’s giving, the guys are just trying to match. And that’s something you can get behind and something you can go with. 

“He’s teaching incredible techniques and every one of the D-linemen is saying they are benefitting from it. So you can just appreciate the energy and the amount of time that he spends and amount of effort that he spends every day just to get his guys ready.” 

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The addition of edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa already has raised the expectations for the defense. Kocurek's ability to fit all of the moving pieces together will be tested once the season begins. 

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo slated to play entire first half vs. Chiefs

49ers' Jimmy Garoppolo slated to play entire first half vs. Chiefs

After a lackluster 11 snaps in Denver, Jimmy Garoppolo will have more of a chance to get his legs underneath him in Kansas City when coach Kyle Shanahan’s plan is for him to play the entire first half. 

“I would like them to get a whole half in,” Shanahan said. “But sometimes halves can be 20 plays and sometimes they could be 45, so it’s more about the play count. I’d like them to get a normal half in. 

“If they do, depending on how you start with the ball how many series you get, if you feel good about it we’d like to not put them back out in the third quarter. But if you don’t feel good and you don’t feel like they got the reps, it’s always an option.” 

Shanahan, like Garoppolo, would have liked the first-team offense to stay in the game longer in Denver but the risk of injury outweighed the reward of the offense getting into a rhythm. 

"It’s just really hard in the preseason when you have three bad drives like that and they want to stay in longer,” Shanahan said. “And every part of my body wants to keep them in longer but you got to make the smart decision and get them out. 

“You like to get guys going to get a quarterback in rhythm, an entire offense in rhythm and we didn’t do that. I truly believe if we stayed in there it would have been a matter of time.” 

When asked specifically about those 11 snaps facing the Broncos, Shanahan said that there was really only one that concerned him; the interception. 

“There was one play to go over,” Shanahan said. “The miscommunication on the protections that starts usually with the quarterback changing the protection. You got to make sure everyone gets it, and then when we don’t have guys blocked because of miscommunication you don’t throw it to their team. 

“Worst case scenario you just go down and take us back. Besides that, the other ones, you can talk about tipped throws and things like that.” 

Part of Garoppolo’s return will be getting over the mental hurdle of protecting his knee. While Garoppolo won’t admit it’s an issue, Shanahan says it’s only natural, especially this week when the team goes back to the venue where the injury occurred. 

“Any time you come back from an injury there’s a bunch of mental hurdles you have to get over every when you are healthy and feel good,” Shanahan said. “I’m sure there’s some stuff with it just being eerie going back to that same place but I haven’t talked to him about that specifically.” 

Shanahan believes that Garoppolo simply needs more time in a live game situation to rebuild his confidence. 

“That’s all Jimmy needs is just to play football whether he’s coming back from an injury or not,” Shanahan said. “We thought we were going to get that last year and unfortunately we didn’t. That was out of everyone’s control.” 

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While Shanahan would like Garoppolo to get a good amount of playing time in during the preseason, he won’t risk it. Tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, are not in need of extra snaps and he will not put Garoppolo on the field with a second-string offensive line facing defensive starters. 

“I want Jimmy to play as much as possible in the preseason and into the regular season but that’s a fine line too.” 

What 49ers' Mike McGlinchey learned from stars Von Miller, Dee Ford

What 49ers' Mike McGlinchey learned from stars Von Miller, Dee Ford

SANTA CLARA — It’s only Mike McGlinchey’s second offseason as a pro, but he already has an advantage over many others: He has played across from some of the best in the business. 

It’s not often that a player learns from multiple reps facing star pass rushers Dee Ford and Von Miller but that’s exactly what the 49ers second-year tackle has been able to do. He has faced Ford in practice as a teammate and has now had several reps and two games facing Miller. 

“They are as good as advertised,” McGlinchey said. “It certainly helped our football team being able to play against those guys. Especially in the pass rush for Joe and I all week, to be able to see something like that. [It helps us] not only for that week but going forward for our season .” 

McGlinchey explained that he was much less anxious going against Miller this year opposed to the end of last season as a rookie.

“A lot less anticipation than there was last season going into the game against him," McGlinchey said. “It’s practice, there’s not as much consequence for when you screw up or miss something. 

“I had the experience from last year, got to go over the film and see what I did well see what I didn’t do well and I think I made a lot of improvements from that game last year to where we’re at now.” 

Everyone knows that facing Miller is a challenge, but McGlinchey knows what it takes to win his matchup in the trenches -- even against the most intimidating opponents.

“Von will test every detail that you can figure out as an offensive lineman,” McGlinchey said. “So, it was good to see and good to stay in a process of what I do rather than focusing on how to win this week. It was good to see my technique work and the kind of stuff I did all season transfer over to blocking good pass rushers

“He tests everything about how you operate as an o-ineman. Everything he does is reactionary but it’s also with intent. He’s waiting to see what I do each rep and he’s going to use whatever he thinks against that particular set or run block or whatever it is.” 

But who is more difficult to block: Miller or Ford? McGlinchey couldn't help but side with his fellow 49ers teammate.

“I’m not going to choose against my own teammate,” McGlinchey said. “They are both extremely gifted athletes and rushers and I’m never going to pick one or the other, except for the fact that Dee is my teammate and I’m going to pick him every time. 

“They are different in their own right, both extremely good and extremely talented and they are similar in their athletic ability but what they do in terms of how they rush is different.” 

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McGlinchey knows that no two pass rushers are alike, and understands how Ford and Miller -- while dominant in their own ways -- bring two different repertoires to the table.

“Von has that elite get off, but that’s not everything he’s working off of,” McGlinchey said. “The way that Dee rushes is that he works everything off his first step, and then power or around to the edge. Von is a little more reactionary whereas Dee is more ‘take it to you.’” 

“Anytime you can get reps against the best it’s a good thing, it’s definitely huge for us.”