How 49ers' prized acquisition Hargrave earned catchy nickname


Javon Hargrave arrives to the 49ers fresh off a career year with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Along with those career-high 11 sacks, Hargrave also brings along a signature celebration and a flashy nickname -- “Gravedigger" -- to the Bay Area.

What’s the story behind Hargrave’s catchy moniker?

“That really came from college, my defensive coordinator,” Hargrave told 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares. “They don’t really say first name and last name in college. So, I guess he went with 'Grave,' from my last name Hargrave.

“After I started to get after the quarterback, he just put ‘digger’ at the end. That’s something that just stuck with me throughout the league.”

Mike Adams was the defensive coordinator for all five seasons (2011 to 2015) Hargrave spent at South Carolina State. The nickname was born during Hargrave's first spring practices at the FCS school in 2012.

“I’d imagine he probably put his hands on somebody pretty violently and it gave me that image of domination,” Mike Adams said to NBC Sports Philadelphia in 2020.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2011, Hargrave put up monster numbers for Adams' defense the next four seasons. He logged 16 sacks and 24 tackles for loss as a junior in 2014, and 13.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss to wrap up his collegiate career in 2015.

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Hargrave was a third-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 NFL Draft and signed with the Eagles as a free agent in 2020.

After three years in Philadelphia, Hargrave agreed to sign a four-year, $84 million contract with the 49ers on March 13. He will join Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw on the interior defensive line, providing new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks with another elite pass rusher to pair with Nick Bosa.

The 49ers Faithful can expect plenty of sacks coming from the star-studded duo of Bosa and “Gravedigger” next fall.

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