Dameon Pierce busted through tackles as a rookie and displayed breakaway speed as the Texans featured running back.
Pierce was honored for his epic, tackling breaking run against the Jacksonville Jaguars, recognized at the NFL Honors awards show for Angriest Run of the Year.
After a Pro Bowl alternate year in his first NFL season and a one-time NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate before a high ankle sprain ended his season, Pierce embodies the kind of physical, tough approach that new coach DeMeco Ryans is looking for on both sides of the football.
Pierce emerged as the Texans’ most dangerous offensive player last season and should be a key figure in the offense again. The architect of the San Francisco 49ers’ top-ranked defense, Ryans is expected to emphasize a strong running game on offense to establish an aggressive, productive style. The 49ers’ versatile offensive system was built around the talents of running back Christian McCaffrey and all-around wide receiver Deebo Samuel.
“It feels good knowing we’ve got a coach that kind of has the same mentality that coach Lovie (Smith) had and it’s easier to adjust to a new staff that has kind of the same philosophy that coach Lovie had, so we already have it implemented with us so we can take it and run with it,” Pierce told KPRC 2 on Saturday during an autograph signing at Northwest Dodge. “That was a great system with the 49ers. They had success with Christian McCaffrey and (Raheem) Mostert, those types of guys. The system works.
“To see him bring it over here and add his own little twist to it and to have our guys fit in our system and make it our own, it’s exciting as an offense that’s an area of our game we want to improve on from last year and that’s the right direction we need to head in terms of the team we are and playing to our strengths. I think with the attitude and system and history of winning he comes from it will fit very well into what he wants to have happen here.”
A former Pro Bowl linebacker, NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year with the Texans, Ryans is eager to put his imprint on the Texans. That includes a vision of building with players like Pierce, who rushed for 939 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie after being drafted in the fourth round out of Florida.
“If you want to play great offense in this league and go far in the playoffs you have to be able to run the ball and, to do that, you need a guy like Dameon who can carry the load, a guy who and plays the game with a physical mindset, finishing forward,” Ryans said. “That’s the type of style I want to play, offensively and defensively, playing a physical brand of football and Dameon fits the bill.”
Pierce is eager to get started and can’t wait to meet Ryans.
“Yeah, he seems to bring the right attitude him and coach Lovie have a lot of things in common in terms of wanting the guys to win, the play style they play, the speed at which they play and the result they want which is to win after giving complete effort, complete focus and detail at every aspect of our game,” Pierce said. “Just being fast and physical while also having fun and winning ball games, I think coach Ryans exemplifies that. I’m excited to get back to camp.
“So, coach DeMeco is bringing a fresh start. He’s coming back home. Everybody loves him. Everybody in the foundation roots for him,. I just keep hearing good things about him. I’m excited to see what he does.”
Encouraged by his injury-shortened rookie season, Pierce is making a speedy recovery from a high-ankle sprain. The Georgia native has emphasized he’s on schedule for the entire offseason program.
“I’m feeling good, man,” Pierce said. “I’m ready to play ball.”
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.