Okoye impresses coach as dream moves closer

(C) 49ers.com
(C) 49ers.com

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has Okoye in his thoughts for squad?

by Andrew McSteen

Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers Jim Harbaugh was impressed when Croydon-born Lawrence Okoye was finally able to show his strength and physical attributes for the first time in full American Football kit – including the all-important pads.

The pads, which slot into the kit, or ‘uniform’, are a vital tool for any player both when giving and receiving any sort of physical contact and coach Harbaugh was pleased with what he has seen over the past two weeks of training camp.

“He was a little bit nervous before (his first) practice, being in unchartered waters” said Harbaugh, who lost the 2012 Super Bowl to his brother John, Coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

“I thought he would be an interesting guy to speak to before the first padded practice so I just sought him out and asked him how he was doing – he had never been in pads before, it was good, he acquitted himself very well.”

Putting on the pads for Okoye highlighted his physical attributes, one of the main reasons he was signed by the 49ers back in April as an unrestricted free agent the day after the official NFL Draft.

“His arm-length really shows up in pads,” said Harbaugh. “Being able to put his hands on somebody and lock them out was really noticeable.”

“The arm length that he has really sticks out more than it did than not in the pads, there’s more contact – you’re hitting into each other and locking out, jarring fillings, which you’re not doing when the pads aren’t on.”

So how does Coach Harbaugh think Okoye will fare when the 49ers start their pre-season campaign against the Denver Broncos tonight at 6pm (local time) in San Francisco?

“I think everybody understands that less than 2,000 people make an NFL roster,” he explained.

“Everybody understands a final cut down roster, what’s at stake and what it’s going to take taking another man’s job away from them.

“I don’t say much to get them (rookies) going – they’re self-motivated guys.”

The San Francisco 49ers play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday 27 October 2013 as part of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium.

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