According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Thursday, April 22, former Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. is signing with the Niners for the 2021 season. Hurst first broke the news on his Twitter account one hour prior.
“49ers Let’s Go to Work!! This defense is about to go crazy!! Time to eat!,” Hurst wrote.
Both Hurst and Key were released by Las Vegas on April 15 after three seasons with the club.
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Hurst Led Raiders in Sacks as a Rookie
Hurst, who was drafted in the fifth round in 2018 — 53 picks after Key came off the board — is coming off of a turbulent season that saw him spend two weeks on the reserve/COVID-19 list in October 2020 and be ruled inactive for four other contests despite playing well through the first quarter of the season. Overall in 11 games, the soon-to-be 26-year-old finished with 27 combined tackles and a career-low 0.5 sacks despite leading the Raiders in the category (4.0) as a rookie in 2018.
For his career, Hurst has compiled 76 total tackles, 17 quarterback hits, 8.0 sacks, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries in 40 games (17 starts). The 6-foot-2, 291-pounder will now join a 49ers defensive tackle room featuring the likes of Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, DJ Jones, Kevin Givens and offseason addition Zach Kerr.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Hurst ranked 11th among interior defensive linemen with 100 or more pass rushes in pressure rate last season. In 2019, he ranked as high as sixth in the category. Pro Football Focus notes that the new Niners pass rusher ranks 31st among defensive tackles with an 11.1% win rate over the last three years.
Hurst Slipped in Draft Due to Heart Irregularities
Leading up to the NFL Draft in 2018, Hurst was one of the most highly regarded defensive tackles in his class. Both Matt Miller, formerly of Bleacher Report, and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com placed a second-round projection on the Michigan standout, comparing his skill set to that of former Dallas Cowboys third-rounder Maliek Collins.
Here was Zierlein’s review:
Hurst is the son a former NFL cornerback of the same name, though Nicole Page, the former Patriots cheerleader has been the only parent the younger Maurice has ever known. In fact, Maurice, Junior wears jersey 73 because it is the opposite of the number 37 his dad wore. The two-time All-Massachusetts high school football pick redshirted his first year in Ann Arbor.
In 2014, he played seven games as a reserve (three tackles, one for loss). Four starts came his way in 13 games played during his sophomore season, and he responded with 35 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and three sacks. While Hurst isn’t the biggest of tackles, he stays square against double-teams and his get-off and hustle outside the box helped him make 34 stops, 11.5 for loss, and 4.5 sacks as a junior. EKG performed at the combine showed irregularities.
Those heart irregularities eventually led to Hurst falling all the way to the Raiders in the fifth round, though no serious issues have arisen since. The Massachusetts native told reporters after the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine that he first learned of his heart condition following an episode after arriving at Michigan as a freshman back in 2013.
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