DeMeco Ryans on Texans running back Dameon Pierce: ‘That’s the type of style I want to play, offensively and defensively’

Dameon Pierce was a Pro Bowl alternate selection as a rookie, rushing for 939 yards and four touchdowns

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Dameon Pierce #31 of the Houston Texans carries the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at NRG Stadium on November 3, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) (Cooper Neill, 2022 Cooper Neill)

HOUSTON – Dameon Pierce’s epic tackle-breaking run against the Jacksonville Jaguars was one of the angriest of the season as he punished defenders with his downhill style.

As a rookie, Pierce established himself as a featured back capable of running through or around defenses as he rushed for 939 yards and four touchdowns before a high-ankle sprain ended his season.

One of the hallmarks of the San Francisco 49ers is their commitment to the running game and how they utilized versatile all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey. Now that he’s been hired as the Texans’ new head coach, former 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans envisions Pierce’s hard-nosed approach as emblematic for how he wants the team to play on both sides of the football.

“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 thrived as an NFL rookie as an instant hit and emerged as the most dangerous weapon on the offense and arguably the top player on the team besides Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Encouraged by his injury-shortened rookie season, the punishing Pro Bowl alternate running back is making a speedy recovery from a high-ankle sprain. The Georgia native, a one-time NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate, has emphasized he’s on schedule for the entire offseason program.

Pierce, placed on injured reserve after getting hurt against the Dallas Cowboys, finished with 1,026 yards from scrimmage despite missing the final four games of the season. Now, Pierce is reflecting on his first NFL season and aiming even higher.

“Man, I’m dang proud of what I’ve been doing,” Pierce said. “I wish I had those four games, though. I put it on paper. It gave me something to look forward to in the offseason. I got 900, lets get 1,000. It’s motivation. It’s a bummer how it ended. I could have played this week, if we had a game, but we don’t, so ..

“It was an administrative decision to put me on IR so I could get into my offseason program heading into next year. Just making sure I was ready and healthy enough to get a jumpstart on my offseason program, so I’m not off timing-wise when it comes to strength and conditioning, vacation time and all that.”

The fourth-round draft draft pick from Florida finished second among all rookie running backs in rushing yards behind the Seattle Seahawks’ Kenneth Walker III (1,050 yards). He ranked third all-time for a rookie in rushing yards in franchise history.

“You knew he was a talented football player,” Texans running backs coach Danny Barrett said. You knew he was a physical runner, able to finish runs. But just his ability to keep those legs moving and moving, pounce like that, adapting to the speed of the game, he probably surprised himself somewhat as well. Because of the type of work ethic he has and his attitude every day, it’s infectious.

“Do we try to make a move at the second level and just make them miss? I think he has that ability to do that, and I think that’s what you’re going to see more so from him in the future. He won’t be just running over people. He’ll make guys miss in space, sort of like the long touchdown run earlier in the year. He made a guy miss in space. He used his speed to get into the end zone as opposed to running through it. I think he has all the skill sets to be a three-down back in this league.

What did Pierce prove?

“Everything, just from a smaller scale showing everybody from my hometown, they can do it,” the Bainbridge, Ga. native said. “And on a bigger scale that I can be a top 10 running back in this league.”

Aaron Wilson is a contributor to KPRC 2 and

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