The San Francisco 49ers are bringing back one of the few bright spots from the underwhelming 2020 season after his year with the Seattle Seahawks.
2020 was a year to forget, as the 49ers dealt with constant injury issues and failed to return to the playoffs after making it to the Super Bowl the previous February. Season-wrecking injuries to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and defensive end Nick Bosa come to mind.
While Bosa recovered, one pass-rusher that stepped up was Kerry Hyder Jr. Hyder put up a monster season that got him paid in Seattle, but after his recent release from the Seahawks, ESPN NFL insider Field Yates is reporting that Hyder is returning to the Bay.
“A return to San Francisco, as the 49ers are signing DE Kerry Hyder to a one-year, $1.5M deal with $750K guaranteed and $750K available in sack incentives,” Yates Tweeted. “He had a career-best 8.5 sacks for the 49ers in 2020 before signing with the Seahawks last year.”
This deal feels like the perfect addition for San Francisco, as 2021 edge rusher Arden Key appears to be leaving based on his recent free agency visit. Key was going to cost a bit more to keep around after a successful 2021 season, but now the 49ers can reunite defensive line coach Kris Kocurek and Hyder.
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Hyder’s Return Bodes Well for Player and 49ers
It may seem like the 49ers didn’t need to add to the defensive line, arguably their deepest positional group. But at a max of $1.5 million for the season, someone like Hyder is always worth it.
As mentioned by Yates above, Hyder put up 8.5 sacks in 2020, which was his career-high through five NFL seasons. Including his time with the Seahawks last year, Hyder has had four seasons where he didn’t record more than 1.5 sacks, PFR says.
The two years he beat that total, 8 sacks in 2016 with the Detroit Lions and his 2020 season with San Francisco, his defensive line coach was Kocurek. If they can create magic for a third time, the 49ers will have another playmaking edge rusher.
Hyder didn’t get a massive payday in Seattle, with an average salary of $3.4 million per season according to Spotrac. However, his contract allowed the Seahawks to cut him with no dead money penalty, which allowed San Francisco and Kocurek to bring back a player they know can perform.
Key Looking for New Teams
While Hyder returns, it feels clear that Key isn’t coming back. After a breakout year with San Francisco that featured 6.5 sacks all from a backup edge-rusher spot, the 25-year-old is checking out his options.
As Heavy’s Lorenzo Reyna wrote up, Key initially visited with the Lions. But in the days since, Key has visited two AFC teams in the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, according to NFL media insider Mike Garofolo.
As Garofolo mentions, the Lions aren’t out of contention for his signature. Key is just surveying his options in his next move, which is smart considering 2021’s 6.5 sacks was his first major success since coming to the league as a third-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2018.