Roaming around a sun-soaked Spartan Stadium during San Jose State’s pro day on Wednesday was none other than proud SJSU alum and former 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia.
In attendance as 20 former Spartans did individual work for representatives of eight NFL teams, the former 49ers Pro Bowler couldn’t help but reminisce about his pro day experience.
“I guess it was what, 1993?” Garcia said with a laugh. “It was not anything close to this. … It’s definitely evolved into much more of a science. Everybody wants to see that technical side, the measurement side of an athlete.”
And while he may not agree with the amount of attention college players receive for their measurables – saying one’s intangibles are more important – Garcia was happy to be back at his old stomping grounds.
It was one part alumni interaction, one part business for Garcia, as he has recently founded a sports agency, Beyond Wealth Sports, with four partners in California. He currently lives in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., about an hour north of San Diego, with his wife and four kids.
While Garcia, 42, finished last season as the No. 3 quarterback for the Houston Texans, he is prepared to move on to the next stage of his football life. Garcia said, "I feel I can still play the game," but is focused on developing his group's client base. Beyond Wealth Sports represents two players that took part in the SJSU workout.
“I’m at a point in my career where I’m transitioning from actually playing the game to now representing players in the game,” Garcia said. “It’s great to come back. It’s great to come see these kids get an opportunity to perform in front of the pro scouts and see what comes of it.”
Safety Duke Ihenacho, SJSU’s lone invitee to the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine, unofficially improved on each of his marks in the 40-yard dash (4.51 seconds), vertical leap (39 ½ inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 3 inches).
Ihenacho, who projects to be a late-round pick in the upcoming draft, said he would love to stay in the Bay Area and play for coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers.
“If you see Harbaugh, you tell him to put me on that Tony Montana Squad,” Ihenacho said, alluding to the team’s energetic kickoff unit. “I want to smack somebody on kickoffs. We played against Stanford in past years so I know what kind of coach he is.”
Ihenacho said he’s been happy to rest since the combine and that he’s looking forward to getting back to football in 2012. This process has been a long time coming for the versatile defensive back, listed at 6-foot, 207 pounds, as he was preparing for the 2011 NFL Draft before a season-ending foot injury derailed his hopes.
“I got hurt and I thought, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to wait another season,’” Ihenacho said. “But it was a blessing in disguise – I graduated and I learned from (SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre) a little bit more. So I’ve seen more teams, seen more guys and I think I am better prepared this year.”
The pro day activities started off inside the Koret Athletics Training Center, as players were measured, did the broad jump, vertical leap and bench press. The group then headed to Spartan Stadium after that, running the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drill before wrapping up with position work.
Wide receiver Michael Avila unofficially boasted the day’s fastest 40 time, finishing in 4.39 seconds, and the top time in the three-cone drill (6.66 seconds). Cornerback Peyton Thompson had the longest broad jump (10 feet, 9 ½ inches), while defensive linemen Mohamed Marah and Andrew Moeaki had the most bench press reps (25) and safety Manu Ngatikaura had the top time in the shuttle (4.16 seconds).
It also marked the first football activity for cornerback Brandon Driver since he ruptured his Achilles tendon in October. Driver, listed at 5-foot-9, 182 pounds, participated in the bench press (16 reps) and 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.72 seconds.
“This is a strong program and it’s getting better,” Ihenacho said.
Garcia wasn’t the only high-profile SJSU alum in attendance. Green Bay wide receiver James Jones, Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert and Oakland Raiders defensive end Carl Ihenacho, Duke’s brother, were also on hand for the event.
“It’s great,” Duke Ihenacho said of the alumni support. “I know these guys personally and I look up to these guys. The support was great.”
Aside from seeing the latest class of Spartans work out, Garcia was happy to hear
After seeing Smith lead the 49ers to 14 wins and the NFC Championship game, Garcia said the new deal was well-deserved.
“Alex came out last year and did a heck of a job,” Garcia said. “He played good, solid football and he played mistake-free football, which was key to their success.”
Though his 12-year NFL playing career might be over, Garcia still has plenty of fond memories of playing in San Francisco. Garcia, a northern California native, said playing for the 49ers was like a “dream come true.”
During his five seasons in red and gold, Garcia made three Pro Bowls and led the team to two playoff berths. In all, Garcia went 35-36 with 113 touchdowns against 56 interceptions during his time with the 49ers.
“I loved playing in San Francisco,” Garcia said. “Running out on the field at Candlestick and playing in front of the hometown crowd – those will be the things that will always stick with me.”