49ers edge rusher Key happy to have gotten away from Raiders


SANTA CLARA -- Arden Key believes he has found the perfect fit

After three seasons in Oakland with the now-Las Vegas Raiders, the defensive end is finally feeling at home across the Bay with the 49ers. Getting cut by a team typically is something devastating for a player, but for Key, it was just what he wanted and needed. 

“I wasn’t totally surprised, to be honest, I wanted to get out of there,” Key said Sunday. “[I had] been wanting to get out of there. I was more happy than surprised. I wish it happened a little earlier, but hey, I got what I wanted." 

“It was bad," he added. "It was just bad all around for me. Bad system. It just wasn’t the right fit for me. I had to get out.” 

Key had his sights set on the 49ers after having one of his 30 pre-draft meetings with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan back in 2018. That familiarity is just one of the factors that has made his adjustment to the red and gold easier. 

The former third-round pick tried to make the most of his stint with the Raiders, where he admits he learned a lot but just wasn’t happy. Key believes the 49ers will give him the best opportunity to thrive, playing faster without as much adjustment on the line.

“It’s perfect -- less thinking and just show off your talent,” Key said. “Get in the two-by-two, that wide-9 and just let it go. Not a lot of communication up front. Once we make the call, it’s set and then you just go full head of steam.”  

Defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans has been pleased with the defensive end's production since his arrival in Santa Clara. Key has been facing Trent Wiliams regularly in 1-on-1s and team drills which has been a learning experience. 

“Arden, he shows up every day," Ryans said. "Arden shows up every day around the quarterback a lot. So Arden is a guy who does a good job on the edge when it comes to rushing the passer. As far as being able to bend and close to the quarterback, he does a really good job of that.

"And he's been more consistent. He's doing a really good job against the run as well, being physical and stout versus the run, which we ask all our guys to do. So I'm pleased with where Arden is now and he'll continue to develop and get better as he continues to just do our technique over and over again.”

While Key favors the 49ers' system, he still was able to manage three sacks, 49 total tackles and 26 quarterback hits over three seasons with the Raiders. He predicts his production will increase as a result of the transition.

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Not only is Key more comfortable within the 49ers' system, but defensive line coach Kris Kocurek also reminds him of Ed Orgeron, his head coach at LSU.

“I fit right in,” Key said. “My type of play, my type of scheme, it’s all coming together.” 

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