Jordan Elliott

Why Browns' Stefanski believes Elliott fits 49ers' defensive scheme

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ORLANDO, Fla. — The 49ers might have found a better scheme fit in defensive tackle Jordan Elliott than with previous free-agent acquisitions, and his former coach, Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns, explained why.

It took Randy Gregory and Chase Young some time to acclimate to San Francisco’s demands of getting off the line and after opposing quarterbacks, even with defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s help. Stefanski believes that will not be the case for Elliott, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the 49ers earlier this month after four seasons with the Browns.

“Elliott fits the scheme well,” Stefanski said Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting. “Kris Kocurek will do a great job with Jordan because he’s played in this system. He knows how to get off the ball. So excited about that for Jordan. Hate to lose him. He’s a great person.”

Elliott also should benefit from working with Kocurek for a full offseason, which neither Gregory nor Young had, since they were in-season acquisitions.

Elliott, a third-round draft pick in 2020, has appeared in 66 games, and predominantly was a starter during his final two seasons in Cleveland. He has five career sacks, 98 total tackles (49 solo and eight for a loss) and 10 quarterback hits.

Elliott will play next to Javon Hargrave, helping fill the void left by Arik Armstead, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being released, and Javon Kinlaw, who’s now with the New York Jets

“Great young man,” Stefanski said of Elliott. “We were able to draft Jordan and watch him mature over the time we had him. Great person, and then a very big, physical football player.”

At 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds, Elliott should be able to help clog the middle of the field, discouraging ball carriers from running between the tackles.

“He does a nice job getting off the ball,” Stefanski said. “Understands how to rush the passer, and understands how to be disruptive in the run game.” 

The 49ers hope to see more productivity from their defensive line in 2024. While it didn’t play poorly as a unit last season, it failed to reach its potential, leading to Steve Wilks’ firing after only one season as defensive coordinator. Nick Sorenson, who understands and knows what the 49ers’ defense is built for after two seasons as an assistant, was promoted to replace Wilks.

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