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‘Full circle' moment: Trade to 49ers excites DT Collins

Newly acquired Maliek Collins believes his trade to the 49ers is the perfect scenario.

While the defensive tackle was enjoying playing for Houston Texans coach DeMeco Ryans, Collins believes working with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek is meant to be.

“I’ve actually been waiting to be coached by him my whole career,” Collins said via video call on Thursday. “I met with him a lot during the combine process back when I came out [of Nebraska], and it’s come full circle.”

Back in 2016 when Collins was coming out of Nebraska and preparing for the NFL Draft, Kocurek was the Detroit Lions’ defensive line coach. The young prospect didn’t end up in Motor City but instead was drafted in the third round (No. 67) by the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent four seasons.

“Same thing from before, when I talked to him on the phone,” Collins said. “I remember just his passion that he brings to the game. How he’s all about getting a ‘dub.’ He wants to be the most productive defensive line and he wants to be No. 1 in everything.”

Through eight NFL seasons Collins has played for the Las Vegas Raiders (2020) as well as the Cowboys and Texans. The 28-year old’s career-best five sacks were in both his rookie season as well as his final season in Houston in 2023 and has appeared in 119 games, 112 as a starter.

Collins not only is familiar with his new coach, but also the man he will line up next to — Javon Hargrave.

“There’s a lot of guys on this line that I’m excited to play with,” Collins said. “Being coached under Kris is the main one, but playing next to some of the guys that are here. Me and Hargrave train a lot together in the offseason so he’s a guy I’m familiar with. He’s a guy I know and I’m excited to come in here and contribute.”

The 49ers want improved productivity from their defensive line in 2024 and Collins could be an important addition. He arrives in San Francisco with the intent to make the team’s run-defense the NFL’s best.

“That’s something I want to come in and contribute to,” Collins said. “I’m excited to be coached and coached hard. It couldn’t be a better situation, a storied franchise like this, at this point in my career, I’m excited.”

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