SF 49ers: How Kerry Hyder increases his role after making 53-man roster

Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek of the San Francisco 49ers watches Kerry Hyder #92 (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek of the San Francisco 49ers watches Kerry Hyder #92 (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers finished their initial 53-man roster, which included Kerry Hyder. Now he stands a chance to improve his role on the depth chart.

The SF 49ers took a chance on former Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys edge rusher Kerry Hyder this offseason, signing him to a one-year deal with the hopes he could resurrect what was once a promising career after joining the NFL as an undrafted free-agent addition of the New York Jets back in 2014.

Hyder was brought aboard for more than just training camp competition. The Niners were, after all, having to figure out how their depth chart would look after losing versatile backup defensive linemen Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor to torn ACLs late last season. And while San Francisco’s starting crop of outside pass-rushers — Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Arik Armstead — are potent enough, the depth behind this trio remains questionable.

There’s little questioning Hyder was on the bubble throughout training camp. One of his primary competitors was a former first-round pick, EDGE Dion Jordan, who was brought aboard at the start of camp to bolster the depth.

But two pieces of context set the stage for Hyder to bounce back from an otherwise so-so effort with the Cowboys last season, both having to do with the Niners’ initial 53-man roster.

First, San Francisco placed Blair and Taylor on the physically unable-to-perform list, meaning they’ll be unavailable for at least the first six weeks of the regular season and won’t count for a roster spot.

In addition, Jordan failed to make the final roster. One of the primary backup pass-rushing spots on the SF 49ers defense was going to Hyder.

How SF 49ers can get even more out of Kerry Hyder

What happens when Blair and/or Taylor return is yet to be determined. But for now, there’s a good chance Hyder looks more like the player he was back in 2016 with the Lions when he registered a career-high eight sacks.

Back then, Detroit’s defensive line coach was none other than the Niners’ own, Kris Kocurek, and one could easily speculate the team brought Hyder in as a free agent because of Kocurek’s influence.

And Kocurek didn’t hesitate to sing Hyder’s praises this offseason.

Despite registering just two sacks since that breakout 2016 campaign, Hyder has still been effective with pressure. Last year, he managed 10 quarterback hurries on the season, and some would argue pressure can be just as effective as a sack, even though the latter is obviously the much more coveted stat.

San Francisco isn’t expecting Hyder to get back to that number of sacks. But considering Blair regularly hovers around five or six sacks per year, it’s not out of the question to see someone like Hyder get onto this kind of trajectory split over those first six weeks.

At least that might be the expectation for him.

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Hyder, who just turned 29 years old, will have that opportunity to showcase his value to the 49ers and to alleviate the loss of both Blair and Taylor for the first half of the season.

Anything beyond is merely a bonus.