It appears the San Francisco 49ers have kept a close eye on the Las Vegas Raiders defense over the years. The team recently released young defensive linemen Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. Key quickly signed a deal with the 49ers, which was a bit of a surprise considering Hurst is regarded more highly.
Well, the young defensive tackle didn’t stay on the free-agent market. Hurst announced on Thursday that he’ll also be joining the 49ers defense.
49ers Let’s Go to Work!! This defense is about to go crazy!! Time to eat!
— Maurice Hurst Jr (@mohurstjr) April 22, 2021
It was surprising when Hurst was let go by the Raiders. He’s been one of their better defenders since he was drafted in 2018. As a rookie, he led the team in sacks with four. 2020 was a down year for him as he only notched 0.5 sacks as he dealt with injuries and COVID-19. Las Vegas added several defensive tackles this offseason so somebody was going to have to get let go. That ended up being Hurst. Key and he will now have a chance to rejuvenate their careers in a much more successful defense.
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Have Raiders Done Enough to Improve DL?
This offseason, the Raiders have added a lot of depth to their defensive line. However, more doesn’t always equate to better. Yannick Ngakoue is the only true defensive maker that they’ve added to the defensive line.
There’s isn’t much of a reason to believe that Solomon Thomas, Matt Dickerson, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon or Niles Scott are upgrades over Hurst. Out of all of those players, Thomas is the most interesting. The former top-five draft pick struggled with the 49ers but will now have a chance to turn things around. The talent is certainly there but he’s dealt with injuries and inconsistencies. It wouldn’t be a good look if Hurst goes to San Francisco and has a great year while Thomas is lackluster in Las Vegas.
Mike Mayock Plays Coy on Raiders Needs
Heading into next week’s draft, the Raiders’ needs are pretty obvious. They did very little to address right tackle and free safety in free agency. Odds are that the team will target those positions early unless a player like linebacker Micah Parsons falls to them. General manager Mike Mayock was recently asked about the need at safety and kept things close to the vest.
“I thought Jeff Heath did a good job last year,” Mayock said Thursday. “Jeff has been in the league several years. We’re always looking for competition.”
Heath was fine for the team last season but he’s going to be 30 when the season starts and has very little upside. Mayock isn’t about to divuldge a bunch of key information right before the draft so he’s just being coy. He made it clear that the Raiders know what they need.
“We’re very aware of our needs,” Mayock went on to say. “Obviously when the needs fit up with where you are in the draft board, that’s awesome. When they don’t, you have to be a little careful.”
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