Garrett Celek gains confidence with each snap

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Garrett Celek gains confidence with each snap

It was a simple catch. A shot gun formation. A toss short right. A four yard gain on a first and ten. The twelfth play in a 14 play touchdown drive. A mere .0064 of a record setting 621 total yards of offense. There was nothing extraordinary about this catch. But its a memorable one for Garrett Celek. It was the first reception of his NFL career.It was definitely exciting. They actually put the play in right before the game, the day before. When they called it, I was really excited. I didnt know if I was going to get the ball or not and when I did, it just felt really good, the 65 rookie explained. I only got four yards out of it, but it felt good to get it out of the way because I had some nerves about it.The catch came on the last play of the third quarter in the 49ers' blow out win over the Bills. It was lost amid the big double digit receptions and scores by the bigger names among the 49ers receiving corp. What stands out is how Celek was even in position to make the catch in the first place.

Celek came to the 49ers as an undrafted free agent rookie out of Michigan State. Five teams had asked the younger brother of Eagles tight end Brent Celek to join their training camps. Garrett felt San Francisco would give him the best opportunity to make a team. The team did not retain veteran tight end Justin Peelle after the 2011 season and an opening, though slight, was there. He chose wisely.Not only did Celek do enough to earn a spot on the regular season roster, he has worked himself onto the field more than any of the other four rookies available for game days. First round draft pick, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, has been active for only one game, the season opener against Green Bay. He didnt play. Second and fourth round picks, running back LaMichael James and offensive lineman Joe Looney, have yet to be active. Sixth round draft pick Trenton Robinson had 11 special team snaps combined in the second and third games of the season. He has been inactive the last two. Celek has 28 offensive snaps over the last three games hes been active. His self analysis is he came in a better blocker than receiver and employs a whatever-it-takes attitude to get better at both. Though catching a ball on Sunday has been foremost on his mind.

Ive been thinking about it for the past few weeks, but once I got it, everything just felt smooth, Celek said. All my nerves went away. I felt more confident in my stuffso it was good.That confidence also comes from feeling more settled and gaining veteran advice from fellow tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. And now Celek is turning his attitude toward gaining versatility, too. Im definitely trying to learn all positions, full back, receiving everything. I want to be as effective as possible If someone were to go down at any point at time, I want the coaches to be able to look at me and go, OK, we can trust him to go in and get the job done. Thats the kind of guy I want to be.

49ers' top pick Thomas 'can't wait' to play best friend McCaffrey in Week 1

49ers' top pick Thomas 'can't wait' to play best friend McCaffrey in Week 1

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers open the regular season on Sept. 10 against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium.

Stanford products Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey will make their NFL debuts in that game across from each other.

Thomas, a defensive lineman, was the No. 3 overall pick of the 49ers. The Carolina Panthers selected McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick.

“I can’t wait to play him,” Thomas said Thursday night on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “You know, that’s my boy. That’s my best friend. I love him to death. I can’t wait to play him.”

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

SANTA CLARA – Leading up to Stanford’s bowl game, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was mostly an under-the-radar draft prospect.

John Lynch had known all about him for a few years. He even called some NFL teams to give them a heads-up to watch No. 90 -- long before he was hired to run the 49ers' personnel department.

After trading back one spot with the Chicago Bears, Lynch made Thomas his first selection as 49ers general manager. The 49ers drafted Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick.

“I want to make it the best draft pick he has,” Thomas said on Thursday.

Thomas first met Lynch during his freshman year at Stanford. Lynch returned to Stanford to finish his degree. They took a class together: Management Science and Engineering.

According to MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, they even collaborated on a project of whether the NFL’s Washington team should change its mascot name.

“I remember I was star-stuck the first day of class,” Thomas said.

Thomas said they did not talk much in the following years, but Thomas reached out to Lynch for advice before Stanford’s game against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.

Said Thomas, “In the pre-draft process before the North Carolina game, he told me: ‘Don’t worry about the external stuff going on. Worry about yourself and your team. The best thing you can do is have the best bowl game possible and show you’re unstoppable and unblockable.”

That is exactly what Thomas did in Stanford’s 25-23 victory over Mitchell Trubisky’s team. Thomas recorded seven tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack.

A month later, Lynch was hired as 49ers general manager and Thomas first began to think about the possibility of being drafted by his former classmate.

“I thought it was definitely a possibility,” Thomas said. “People really hadn’t watched my film yet, so I didn’t know if I’d go that high.”

Thomas was routinely matched with the 49ers in mock drafts in the weeks leading up to Thursday’s first round. The 49ers swapped their second pick with the Chicago Bears, who moved up to select Trubisky.

All along, Thomas said he wanted the 49ers to draft him.

“In my head I thought, ‘I love that, but I can’t ride the rollercoaster and believe that stuff or I’m going to get my heart broken.’ I kept my mind open and came in blind and tried to be happy for any team to draft me,” Thomas said. “But the best team for me drafted me and the best team I wanted to draft me drafted me.

“I love John Lynch. I love the way he played the mentality that he’s going to bring to the team. Coach (Kyle) Shanahan seems like an amazing man and an amazing coach.”