Rookie Thomas, 49ers begin rebuilding project
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Solomon Thomas signed his contract, rushed to the locker room to throw on a jersey and cleats, and ran out to the field to join the rest of his San Francisco 49ers teammates at the first training camp practice under coach Kyle Shanahan.
"It was amazing to get out here and be here Day 1 with my team," Thomas said Friday. "I'm just very glad we got this done as quickly as possible."
Thomas was able to pass the conditioning test while his teammates practiced and then watched the team drills in the final half of practice. He is expected to jump right in today.
"We've seen Solomon. We've seen his workouts and stuff. He's a guy I believe is in shape," Shanahan said. "I expect to see him out there tomorrow."
While Thomas was anxious to join his teammates while waiting at his college campus at Stanford for the deal to get done, he said he wasn't worried this would be a long-term absence even though Chargers defensive lineman Joey Bosa missed a month last summer after also being drafted third overall and being represented by CAA.
Thomas said he didn't get involved in the details of the negotiations between his agent and general manager John Lynch and just waited to be told when the deal was done.
"I was not concerned at all," Thomas said. "I trusted my agent. I hired him for a reason. He knew how fast I wanted to get out there. He knew that I wanted to be out there with the team. He knows I didn't want to be by myself for another month. I was going to let him take care of everything. Both parties worked extremely hard and got things done as quickly as possible."
Now Thomas can be part of a rebuilding project in San Francisco after the 49ers matched a franchise record with 14 losses last season.
That led to the firing of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke in the latest organizational overhaul. Coach Jim Harbaugh was forced out in 2014 after a four-year tenure that included three trips to the NFC title game and one Super Bowl loss and Jim Tomsula lasted just one season before being replaced by Kelly.
Now with Lynch and Shanahan in place and armed with six-year contracts, the 49ers appear to have the stability that had been lacking in recent years. That's why the players who have endured the recent turmoil are so excited about the start of camp.
"You say that every year," left tackle Joe Staley said. "Everybody comes in at this time of year and saying those exact same things day one, 'This is the year we're doing it.' I've said that the last three years. But I do feel different about this year. It's one thing to say it. But I feel confident with the direction the team is going."
Part of the reason for optimism is some of the young players added in recent years, especially on the defensive front seven. The team used first-round picks in 2015 and '16 on defensive linemen Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner and then added Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round this year.
Foster did not participate in team drills in the offseason program as he recovered from a shoulder injury but made an immediate impact on the first day of camp, intercepting a pass in a seven-on-seven drill.
"It was good to get him out there, get him on the field," Shanahan said. "I know he's been chomping at the bit for a while now. It was good to see him go through it full speed, deal with getting aligned right and stuff. I think he got an interception out there today, which was good for him. It was a good first day."
NOTES: S Jimmie Ward injured his hamstring in the conditioning test Thursday and was placed on the physically unable to perform list. He is week to week. ... Jaquiski Tartt got the chance to replace Ward at free safety alongside Eric Reid.