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Solomon Thomas talks mental adjustments, Kris Kocurek, his 2018 performance

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The 49ers defensive lineman is turning heads at OTAs and is ready to look forward after a less than stellar 2018. One year removed from his sister’s suicide, Thomas is mentally right and ready to roll.

Solomon Thomas is becoming one of the better stories of the 2019 offseason. We all know by now that he had a horrible start to 2018 with his sister’s suicide and the mental battle with grief was felt on the field. Watching him overcome that and now getting nods from his new position coach Kris Kocurek.

Thomas already opened up about his performance in 2019. He joined Matt Maiocco on the 49ers Insider Podcast and dove deeper into not just his performance, but how his sister’s death affected it and how he had to stop bottling his emotions in:

“I’m not making excuses for how I played at all. That’s on me. I’ll take that to the head every day. I didn’t play anything close to how I am or show any spark of who I am on the field. Every day I’ll own up to that. I hate looking back on it, but it’s true. Definitely had a lot of carryover of what I went through with my family in the offseason losing my sister. A lot of going through the grief process. I struggled through it and didn’t handle it really well at first. I kind of got stuck in a dark hole that I couldn’t get out of for awhile. Really didn’t honor my emotions or really even tend to them at all. Kept going through life like it was nothing. I really struggled in that regard and it took me a while to reach out for help and once I did, then I felt like I started getting better. It was about like, midseason, after bye week. After I come out and start getting healthier mentally is when I started playing better, my mind started clearing up. Wasn’t as clouded and was able to kind of finally play again. I feel like I finished those games strong and kind of showed who I could be and what I’m going to be in this future. I feel way more confident than I did back then and way more powerful than what I’m going to be able to do this season. I’m pretty excited about it.”

Later on when asked about where he was in the healing process, Thomas responded saying it was, “the best I’ve felt in a while.” He’s learned the value of mental health and how to not keep his emotions bottled up.

It’s a great listen (as most of the 49ers Insider Podcasts are) and it adds more to what could be an incredible comeback story for Thomas. I’ve time-stamped everything below, but it’s worth a listen to hear Thomas’ voice in this.

You can listen to the podcast using the widget above. If you don’t see it, click here to listen.

00:30 - What OTA-time means to him
02:20 - What the 2019 season means for the 49ers and for him personally
03:35 - The burden of being the No. 3 overall pick
04:48 - How much he’s insulated himself from criticism, and how much he listens to it
06:16 - The difference from rushing the passer inside vs. outside
07:47 - The Wide 9 defense
08:55 - Working with Kris Kocurek
10:56 - The forming of the defensive line with Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, and DeForest Buckner
12:09 - What Dee Ford brings to the table
13:17 - What Nick Bosa brings
14:00 - What he attributes the difference in 2019 to
15:54 - His sister’s death and grief off the field carrying over on the field
18:41 - Where he is in the healing process
19:38 - A message for people going through a similar situation or in dark places
21:15 - Hearing about Dre Greenlaw’s story
23:09 - The NFL’s efforts to addressing pain management and mental health
24:53 - Participation in the overnight walk for AFSP
26:48 - Joining him on the walk