Ex-49ers DL Praised for ‘Explosiveness’ Drafted Into the XFL

Kellen Mond Kevin Atkins

Getty Kellen Mond tries to escape from Kevin Atkins on August 20, 2022 during the preseason.

One member of what was considered a loaded undrafted rookie class for the San Francisco 49ers found his way to a new pro football roster on Wednesday, November 16.

And after going undrafted in April 2022, this time Kevin Atkins was one of the draft picks in the return of the XFL Draft.

Atkins, who got brief action during the 49ers‘ preseason slate of games in August 2022, was taken at No. 38 in the fifth round of the draft by the St. Louis Battlehawks.

The league is making its official return after shutting down in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Battlehawks are one of the 2020 teams that will be making its return while the league will lure back franchises in Las Vegas, Houston, Seattle, and Washington D.C.


How Atkins Once Caught the 49ers’ Attention

Though he never had his name called, the Fresno State standout Atkins still did enough to intrigue the 49ers especially defensive line coach Kris Kocurek — as detailed by this past story from The Athletic’s David Lombardi.

“How did the 49ers discover Kevin Atkins, the Fresno State DT added as an undrafted free agent? First tip came from scouts, who recommended a closer look,” Lombardi tweeted back on May 26.

Kocurek then made this move: Sending another 49ers representative to put Atkins through drills.

“So Kris Kocurek sent his assistant, Darryl Tapp, down to Fresno to put Atkins through a private workout,” Lombardi shared.

From there, as detailed by Lombardi, “49ers like Atkins’ explosiveness. He’s a DT [defensive tackle], but he also delivered at 5-tech for Fresno State. That’s a testament to his athleticism/potential fit within SF’s system. 49ers have a big crowd in the room. But remember that they’ll also utilize that practice squad to stock D-line.”

This was likely the explosiveness that the 49ers saw on film out of Atkins:

During his final collegiate season at Fresno State in 2021, Atkins snatched 7 sacks including one against No. 11 Oregon (who was No. 3 in the nation that September 4 day) and recovered three fumbles (two in the 30-20 win over No. 21 ranked San Diego State).He also delivered 39 tackles with 26 solo stops.

In the truncated 2020 season, Atkins finished with 4.5 sacks to go along with 22 tackles and 9 solo stops. He produced 5 sacks including 2 versus Minnesota in the 2019 campaign. Atkins additionally played in 10 games during Fresno State’s run to the 2018 Mountain West Conference title — the same season his Bulldogs defeated an Arizona State team featuring future 49er Brandon Aiyuk in the Las Vegas Bowl.


Atkins’ Action With the 49ers

Again the 6-foot-2, 307-pound Atkins saw brief action with the 49ers for three games — all in the preseason.

He was given his most defensive snaps against the Green Bay Packers in the 49ers’ preseason debut with 23 plays total per Pro Football Focus. He lined up on 10 plays in the second preseason contest against the Minnesota Vikings. Then, in what would become his final live action game as a 49er, Atkins saw the field on 15 plays — 13 of which required him to play the run against the Houston Texans.

Atkins will now head to a team coached by former first rounder of the 2000 NFL Draft and Ex-NFL tight end Anthony Becht, who will also handle general manager duties for the Battlehawks.

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