Like many offensive line prospects selected in the 2013 NFL Draft,
The San Francisco 49ers seventh-round selection (No. 246 overall) didn’t receive the same fanfare as top-4 draft picks Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson, but his story is very similar.
It’s also very much like the conversion made by two-time Pro Bowl left tackle,
Bykowski began his career at Iowa State as a tight end and put on additional weight to become an offensive tackle for the Cyclones.
Now, the 6-foot-6, 306-pound rookie tackle uses his foot speed to his advantage.
“I was able to play tight end and then use quickness to keep that now going against guys who are 30 pounds bigger,” Bykowski said. “They move just as fast and are stronger so you’ve got to use everything you can whether it’s hand placement, punch and all that stuff.
“It’s definitely a benefit to have that background and use it to my advantage.”
It’s also a huge plus that Bykowski is being personally mentored by an elite player like Staley.
During San Francisco’s “Football School” workouts, Bykowski has paid close attention to every movement made by the 49ers starting left tackle.
“He’s a great guy to ask questions to,” Bykowski said of Staley. “You can pick his brain a little bit on how he made the transition. He’s a really nice guy, too, so he’s easy to talk to.”
Bykowski’s smarts were tested at rookie minicamp last weekend. Playing quickly was important, but the same emphasis was also put on understanding the concepts of each play call.
“It was fast,” the rookie tackle said of his first practices with the 49ers. “You had to know your assignment on every play.”
Fortunately for Bykowski, the rookie doesn’t have to take all the first-team reps now that he’s working with the veterans on the 49ers roster.
Bykowski can study Staley’s movements and techniques. He’s also taking notes on the footwork of starting right tackle
“They’re masterful technicians at what they do,” Bykowski said of the starting tackle tandem. “Every step is calculated. Whenever the play is called, they know right away what they’re doing against every look you could possibly have. So you watch them, every step they take, everything they’re doing.
“You take mental reps and try to emulate what they’re doing.”
Bykowski’s not only taking notes on the field. He’s also watched the veterans morning lift sessions to see how they get better in the weight room. When the rookies lift in the afternoon, Bykowski feels better prepared after studying the veterans.
Working with some of the best offensive linemen in the NFL is a big deal to Bykowski, who called being drafted by the 49ers, “a dream come true.”