49ers cut day press conference: Jim Harbaugh
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SANTA CLARA -- Defensive lineman Lawrence Okoye was waived-injured on Tuesday, but that does not mean the great experiment is over.
A year ago, Okoye threw the discuss for Britain in the Summer Olympics. When he expressed interest in playing American football, the 49ers liked what they saw from his rare combination of size and speed. Okoye (6 foot 6, 304 pounds) spent this spring and summer learning how to play football, mostly from 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula.
He made steady progress from just learning how to put on pads to playing in three exhibition games. He sustained a right knee injury Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings that forced him out of the game in the closing minute. Overall, Okoye said he was pleased with his progress.
"I still have a long way to go," Okoye said. "There's still a lot of things that need to be scrubbed down and polished up. It's a long process, but I'm enjoying it."
Okoye is wearing a brace on his knee and using crutches to get around. But he did not sustain an ACL injury, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. It is not a season-ending injury. The 49ers could bring him back to the practice squad later in the season.
"We'll have his rights when he's healthy and we can sign him back," Harbaugh said.
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Ian Williams is in line to open the season as the starting nose tackle over Glenn Dorsey, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. The nose tackle is position that is replaced when the 49ers go with five defensive backs. Last year, the 49ers' third cornerback, Culliver, played more than 60 percent of the snaps during the season.
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Middle linebacker Patrick Willis is expected to be play in the season opener, but Fangio said he'll likely have to wear a "contraption" on his hand. Willis sustained a broken right hand in practice on July 31.
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Fangio said he is under the impression that outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks will escape any NFL-imposed suspension for his offseason fight with teammate Lamar Divens. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's office did not press charges in the case.
[REWIND: No charges levied against 49ers' Brooks]
"I'm pretty sure the league came out and announced he wouldn't be suspended," Fangio said.
But an NFL spokesman said there is "nothing to report." The league has not announced any decision on potential punishment for Brooks.
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The competition at long-snapper between 13-year veteran Brian Jennings and undrafted rookie Kevin McDermott has yet to be settled. The onus might be on McDermott during Thursday's exhibition finale against the San Diego Chargers.
"Both are NFL snappers," Harbaugh said. "We feel very good about both of those men. It'll go right down to the wire."