Alama-Francis has two-week window to prove himself

August 21, 2012, 2:55 pm
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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers, a team short on outside linebackers in its exhibition game Saturday night, picked up three players at the position on Monday.Aldon Smith, still noticeably hobbled by a right hip bruise, put on pads for the first time since sustaining his injury on Aug. 10. Ahmad Brooks, the starter on the other side, also returned to the practice field after sitting out four practices, as well as Saturday's game.And making his 49ers practice debut was Ikaika Alama-Francis, 27, who played 35 games over the past five seasons with Detroit and Miami. Alama-Francis, whose first name is pronounced "e-KY-kuh," entered the NFL in 2007 as a Lions second-round draft pick.He signed a non-guaranteed, one-year 700,000 contract with the 49ers on Aug. 15. Per rules of the CBA ratified last summer, players newly signed in training camps must go through a three-day acclimation period before they are allowed to put on pads.So the first day Alama-Francis was allowed to fully suit up was Saturday -- for the 49ers' game against the Houston Texans. He was outfitted in full pads but did not play in the game.
"It's been pretty crazy," Alama-Francis said. "Game day was the first day I could put on pads. I'm just learning the playbook. Being in a 3-4 scheme the past three years in Miami, I can relate things, but the terminology is different. Everybody has different ways of doing things. There's a lot of studying ahead."Alama-Francis had recent tryouts with Kansas City and Oakland. The 49ers offer him a reasonable chance at a roster spot at outside linebacker, a position he played the past two seasons in Miami. Alama-Francis (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) was 15 pounds heavier as a defensive end earlier in his career.The 49ers carried just three outside linebackers last season, and they might want to open this year with a little more insurance. Parys Haralson appears set as the third outside linebacker.
The team's two draft picks at outside linebacker, Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson, do not figure to be on the 53-man roster after final cuts on August 31 due to knee injuries. Currently, journeyman Eric Bakhtiari is the No. 4 outside linebacker.Alama-Francis has been impressed in a short period of time with what he's seen with the 49ers. He has never been on a team with a winning record, and he played 13 games in 2008 for the winless Lions."Everything is really organized," said Alama-Francis, a native Hawaiian who played college football at the University of Hawaii. "Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, what he preaches really sinks in with the guys on the team. That's why they're winning. It's a great organization, and I'm glad to be a part of it."It's also going to be a hectic two weeks for Alama-Francis as he hopes to quickly prove he deserves one of the 49ers' coveted roster spots. Thirty-seven players must be trimmed from the roster over a five-day period, Aug. 27 to Aug. 31.
"I got a two-week window, so hopefully I can show them enough to be on this team for the 53," he said. "You know how the NFL works: 'Hey, come in, get the job done or go home.'"The train isn't stopping for anybody. It's not stopping for me, so I might as well ride it."

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