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Maurice Hurst can be a Surprise Standout for the 49ers in 2022

Maurice Hurst Jr. can be the 2022 version of Arden Key for the San Francisco 49ers.

Maurice Hurst Jr. came to the San Francisco 49ers for a new start.

That start unfortunately never occurred as injuries derailed his season. Still, the 49ers like Hurst. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have brought him back regardless of his minimum salary. 

Hurst had been a bright spot for the Las Vegas Raiders prior to joining the 49ers. Despite the Raiders continuously rolling out a putrid defensive line, Hurst managed to make an impact. He was the clear focus of attention with the Raiders. Now that he’s with the 49ers, he gets to take on lesser talent as a rotational player. It’ll be night and day for him considering he was once a starter.

Competition will be heavy for Hurst come training camp as the 49ers have 14 defensive line signed to the roster. He could be a camp casualty if he underperforms or if his health is an issue again. But I believe that if his health is strong, then he’ll make the final cuts.

In fact, Hurst can be a surprise standout for the 49ers in 2022.

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This is going to be the second consecutive time where I prop up Hurst to be a “diamond in the rough” type. Back to his final year with the Raiders, Hurst ranked 11th among interior defensive linemen with 100+ pass rushes in pressure rate. The guy knows how to get to the quarterback and he did so with no support. My good friend Maurice Moton who writes for Bleacher Report had this to say last year about Hurst.

“Typically, he's one of the first to get off the line of scrimmage and displays the lateral quickness to make plays outside of his gap with the closing speed to take down quarterbacks who hold on to the ball just a second too long."

What is easily forgotten with Hurst is that he was once a prominent prospect in the 2018 draft. He was slated to be a first-round pick, but concerns regarding his heart condition saw him slide into the fifth-round where the Raiders grabbed him. So he has some untapped potential that is waiting to be unleashed. Who better to unleash that than defensive line coach Kris Kocurek? 

Hurst can be the 2022 version of Arden Key. 

And with Key signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the 49ers will need a new surprise player. Signing Kerry Hyder Jr. back may seem to be the replacement for Key given that he’s on the edge, but really it is Hurst. There’s no better player to have a surprise season where they make an impact in moments of a game. That’s exactly what Key did. Plus, Hurst came from the Raiders just like Key, so maybe there is some luck there to be had.

Health will be the main key for him. So long as he’s steady, Hurst should start to finally hit his stride to make the cuts and show out in the season as a key contributor.