49ers rookie camp notes: Okoye's unique skill set
Share This Post

SANTA CLARA -- If sending a medicine ball into orbit counted for anything on a football field, 49ers defensive end Lawrence Okoye might become an All-Pro.

After the 49ers were paced through practice Friday that lasted nearly two hours, Okoye demonstrated his peculiar physical ability in some post-practice drills at the team's rookie camp.

The highlight was Okoye sending a medicine ball flying about twice as far as anyone else with a backward hurl. Just call it "Okoye's Comet."

He also demonstrated his unique athleticism in a drill in which strength and conditioning coach Mark Uyeyama had players jump onto a box about 3 feet off the ground and then explode high into the air before landing on a high-jump pit.

Okoye, the British Olympian in the discus who has never played American football, received a lot of coaching throughout the non-padded practice. He lined up at right defensive end in the 49ers' defense. Just watching him perform those drills demonstrated the kind of amazing physical ability the 49ers will try to mold into a football player.


Here are some other observations from the practice:

--Running back Marcus Lattimore (knee), defensive linemen Tank Carradine (knee) and Quinton Dial (toe), and tackle Luke Marquardt (foot) did not take part in any drills.

--Undrafted rookie H-back MarQueis Gray, who split his time in college at quarterback and wide receiver, wore the uniform number of the man he's hoping to replace. Gray, outfitted in Delanie Walker's old No. 46, looked comfortable running routes. His blocking will determine if he can make a smooth transition to a new position.

[REWIND: NFL position a 'Gray' area for 49ers newcomer]

--Anthony Davis walked out to the practice field to watch practice. His older brother, Andre, is taking part in a tryout. Andre played defensive line at Kentucky Christian, but he is getting a tryout on the offensive line. He lined up at right tackle, of course.

--The quarterback who threw the tightest spiral during drills was coach Jim Harbaugh. B.J. Daniels, at times, had a difficult time negotiating the wind with some wobbly passes. Nate Montana, on hand for a tryout, came up short on several intermediate throws.

[RELATED: Nate Montana takes crash course on West Coast Offense]

--Safety Eric Reid looks the part. He looked just fine in a couple coverage situations in one-on-one drills.


--Cornerback Darryl Morris (Texas State) had great coverage of a deep route against fourth-round draft pick Quinton Patton during one-on-one drills. Morris also picked off a Montana pass intended for Greg Wilson of Fordham.

--Cornerback Lowell Rose (Tulsa) had an interception of a deflected Daniels pass.

--Tight end Vance McDonald had a pass from Daniels deflect off his hand in one-on-one drills. But he later had the best catch of the day along the sideline on a pass from Montana against the coverage of Michael Thomas, who was on the practice squad last season.

--Linebacker Nick Moody, a sixth-round draft pick, looked good in coverage.

--Patton had a ball in his hands broken up by seventh-round pick Marcus Cooper. He later made a nice catch in traffic across the middle in a seven-on-seven drill.

--The player who looked most comfortable catching punts in the wind was Brandon Carswell of USC. He was in camp with the Raiders last year and caught three passes for 36 yards in the exhibition season. Carswell is taking part in the workout on a tryout. He effortlessly handled every punt and even secured one-handed catches. After a couple rounds, each player back returning punts had one ball placed in an arm, forcing them to catch one-handed. 

--Patton handled punts well until he attempted one-handed catches. Daniels also caught a couple of punts, as the 49ers began experimenting with different ways to get the versatile quarterback involved. Wilson, who dropped a couple passes early in the practice, handled his punts flawlessly, too.

--Long-snapper Kevin McDermott of UCLA had a good day, beginning with Harbaugh assertion that he was "the best long-snapping candidate in college football." Added Harbaugh, "He'll be in a battle of competition with the great Brian Jennings at that position. But I think he's an excellent candidate and has the license and the opportunity to make a spot on this football team."