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49ers rookie minicamp: Lawrence Okoye at his first practice

The San Francisco 49ers held their first practice with rookie Lawrence Okoye. We look at what it means for the young British athlete.

Jason O. Watson

The caption that came with the picture above was this:

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 10: Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula of the San Francisco 49ers (left) instructs Lawrence Okoye #78 (center) on blocking techniques during the San Francisco 49ers rookie minicamp at their training facility on May 10, 2013 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

I reference the caption because the 49ers welcomed Lawrence Okoye to rookie minicamp on Friday, and the trip up the learning curve has truly begun. Every rookie faces a learning curve, but Okoye's is significantly steeper than virtually any rookie in the NFL. It sounds like Okoye was tossed right in from the get-go. Quinton Dial sat out practice with a toe injury, and with Tank Carradine also out, Okoye got most of the reps at defensive end.

It sounds like he was pretty tired by the end, but he got his first opportunity to show his stuff. He spoke with the media during the day, and re-emphasized that he will make mistakes and learn from them. When asked about why he chose the 49ers, he provided a reason that makes perfect sense:

I think it's because of Jim Tomsula. His background coaching guys in NFL Europe who have minimal experience playing the game was a big contributing factor for me. He made me realize if these other guys can do, there's no reason I can't do it. I believe in my ability.

This really is an ideal opportunity for the young Brit. He is learning plenty (he referred to the football field as the "pitch" before correcting himself), and it will be a day-by-day process.