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Harbaugh impressed with Lawrence Okoye so far

San Francisco 49ers Rookie Camp Getty Images

The 49ers were expecting to have to teach and develop rookie defensive end Lawrence Okoye.

So when the former English Olympic discus thrower put on pads for the first time this offseason, no one expected him to look natural.

But 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he’s been impressed with how Okoye has looked so far in training camp.

“The most noticeable thing is he appears to be a better player in pads, which wasn’t going to be my first thought,” Harbaugh said, via Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “His arm length really shows up in pads. He was wearing pads, other guys wearing pads. Now, the arm length, to be able to put his hands on somebody and lock them up, was noticeable.”

Okoye’s a physically gifted project, but the whole never-having-played football thing will be an issue he’s going to have to overcome. He said his rugby background helps, but wearing a helmet and “being able to lead with your face,” changed things for him.

“I was happy with the way I dealt with it,” Okoye said. “It’s very different than OTAs and football school when you haven’t got the helmet on and the pads on. Obviously, I’m still not doing a lot of things correctly. But I’m taking on guys and I’m holding my own. That’s as much as I can expect of myself at the moment.”

That’s true for most undrafted rookies at this stage of camp, but the 49ers knew he’d be a process when they signed him.

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13 Responses to “Harbaugh impressed with Lawrence Okoye so far”
  1. YouMadCauseImStylingOnYou says: Jul 28, 2013 4:54 PM

    Low-risk, high reward type project for a team with a serious amount of depth on the defensive side of the ball.

  2. braceyourselffor12 says: Jul 28, 2013 5:06 PM

    I was extremely excited when the Niners signed him not for what what he’ll bring this season but for what he can do later. To say that he is athletically gifted would be an understatement.

    He has excelled at every sport he has ever taken up, withing two years of picking up a discuss he was in the Olympics and coupled with the fact that he has a DL coach who had previously worked with inexperienced players in NFL Europe, this kid could be a true diamond in the rough.

    If it all pans out and he utilizes his strength and work ethic properly I expect to see Lawrence shine as a football player.

    GO NINERS!!!!!

  3. cali49er707 says: Jul 28, 2013 5:07 PM

    Blah, blah, blah

    Let’s just throw anything Harbaugh says against the wall & hope it sticks. Typical PFT giving a morsel for all the rats & snakes aka Harbaugh haters something to chew on.

    Anything he says to a local beat writer PFT is quick to jump on. PFT relishes the fact that he is viewed as a lightning rod for negative comments.

    He was commenting on a guy who will be lucky to make the league let alone the team & PFT was quick to throw $h-+ against the wall just to watch it stick.

  4. zeeman911 says: Jul 28, 2013 5:32 PM

    I hate the 49ers, but I’m pulling for this kid, great story…

  5. hawkstradamus says: Jul 28, 2013 5:32 PM

    Just have Justin Smith teach him how to hold O-Linemen so the olb can get past untouched, sure it’s cheating, but Harbaugh is fully acclimated wih the fine art of hypocrisy.

  6. Iknoweverything says: Jul 28, 2013 6:26 PM

    Meanwhile Pete Carroll is methodically preparing his team for a NFC West title, home field advantage for playoffs, and a Super Bowl title while staying out of the spotlight and letting Russell Wilson lead his team(while wearing a SEAHAWKS hat)

  7. jrazz22 says: Jul 28, 2013 6:44 PM

    You Seahawk bandwagoners are hilarious. Not only has your pathetic team cheated more than any other team, you couldn’t even win your division with a gift wrapped win last year. The worst fanbase in all of sports. Keep commenting you pathetic losers.

  8. dirk504 says: Jul 28, 2013 7:07 PM

    What a surprise! More Seahawks fans trolling a Niner story. #QuestForOne

  9. mackcarrington says: Jul 28, 2013 7:18 PM

    “being able to lead with your face”. Cant the NFL powers that be see that helmets and facemasks naturally lend itself to head-on hits? They are way too cowardly and do the extreme thing and limit headgear. But after they turn football into 2-hand touch, wearing a helmet will be useless anyway.

  10. sfniners4life says: Jul 28, 2013 11:00 PM

    Abunch of young de/olb on the niners. With him and tank were looking for the Justin smith replacement. Excite to see the niners preseason with all the DB, dline, and wr to see which ones can contribute now and the future.

  11. leanback360 says: Jul 29, 2013 10:51 AM

    A quick heads up for all NFL GM’s, if you’re looking for physically gifted people with no knowledge of American Football or the NFL, look no further than the forwards in the current British and Irish Lions Rugby squad

  12. briank1ne says: Jul 29, 2013 6:05 PM

    we have so much depth i forgot about this guy. yikes!

  13. bassplucker says: May 18, 2014 8:38 AM

    Leading with the face? I guess the Niners coaches aren’t Heads-Up certified, then.

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