Programming note: Tune in tonight when 49ers running back Frank Gore goes 1-on-1 with Insider Matt Maiocco on Chronicle Live at 9 p.m., only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
SANTA CLARA -- A little more than an hour into practice Monday, 49ers safety Cory Nelms jogged off the practice field.When he returned a short time later, he had an added bounce to his step.
Nelms ran off during the middle of practice to watch a live stream of the women's 400-meter hurdles at the London Olympics. He watched a computer in the office of Mike Chasanoff, manager of public relations, as his girlfriend, T'erea Brown, qualified for a spot on Wednesday's final with a personal-record time 54.21 seconds"She got out good," Nelms said. "It seemed like she was falling back, but she maintained and ran her race. She PR'd yesterday and PR'd again today. She's peaking. She's definitely on the right track."Nelms, who is fighting for a spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster, did not have the luxury of traveling to London to watch Brown, 22, whom he met 6 years ago as members of the University of Miami (Fla.) track team."I wanted to go, but I'm in a situation where I need to stay here and compete for a spot on this team and try to help this team," he said.Before practice, 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell approached Nelms to ask if he wanted permission to duck out of practice long enough to watch the semifinal."I said, 'Definitely,'" Nelms said. "I guess he got permission (from coach Jim Harbaugh) and said it would be OK."Brown won the 2011 NCAA championship. She finished third at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene. She arrived in London with a previous personal best of 54.81. Nelms said she will have to run 53 seconds to get onto the podium. He believes she has the ability to bring home a medal.Nelms has plenty of his own hurdles to clear.He is in his second year in 49ers camp after going undrafted in 2011. Nelms spent all of last season on the 49ers' practice squad after being honored with the Thomas Herrion Award. The honor goes to the rookie or first-year player that best takes advantage of every opportunity and turned it into a positive to make a dream turn into reality."It's kind of like appreciation you get from the team," Nelms said. "You come out and work hard every day and you play whistle to whistle. That award showed me that the team appreciates what I do every day. I'm going to continue to do that."Nelms played cornerback last season. This year, he has transitioned to safety -- a spot he believes is a better fit for his physical style of play."The coaches are really helping me out, helping me learn the new position," he said. "I'm learning the defense well. We're just trying to get better. Everybody is supporting me and helping me out, so I thank them for that."