Among the whirlwind of activity going on in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, my favorite thing to do was get the chance to speak one on one with several highly respected members of the NFL community.
Among them was Hall of Fame defensive lineman John Randle, who was kind enough to give me some time to answer a couple of 49ers related questions.
You know I had to ask Randle about the 49ers’ pass rush, as he is one of the greatest sack artists the NFL has ever seen. I was pleasantly surprised when Randle immediately credited 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek's work when discussing the pass rush production in recent seasons.
Do you have any thoughts on the 49ers’ defensive line and what you’ve seen from that pass rush over the last couple of seasons?
“Well, I’ll tell you what. With Kris Kocurek being the defensive line coach, you guarantee that those guys are going to be bringing it. Kris is a guy who plays through his players. Very vocal, very animated, but he’s a guy who expects his guys are going to bring it on every play.”
Kocurek and Randle spent some time together as teammates in Seattle, so the praise is understandable. However, what was really fascinating was learning that the two had a relationship that traced back to their roots in Texas.
Kocurek is from Caldwell, Texas, and Randle is from Hearne, Texas. The two schools are within 35 miles of each other in southeast Texas.
Kocurek also attended Randle’s Alma Mater, Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Randle mentioned how much he enjoyed having someone to talk with during training camp who was from the same area as himself.
You mentioned that you and Kris go way back. Do you have any fun stories or memories from your time knowing him?
“Kris, he’s from Caldwell, I’m from Hearne. Kris actually went to my old college, Texas A&M at Kingsville. Just sitting around talking about Texas things, two of the biggest things in Texas is Blue Bell Ice Cream and Whataburger.
So in training camp, we’d sit and just talk about things from Texas, and it’s always kind of cool to meet somebody who’s from your home area, and you both have similar taste in things. So it was always cool just to sit and reflect with him.”
You could tell he had a genuine level of affection and admiration for Kocurek every time he mentioned his name during our discussion. It was pretty refreshing to hear someone without direct ties to the 49ers be so quick to give Kocurek his well-deserved flowers.