49ers DT Darnell Dockett Addresses Bay Area Media for First Time

Admittedly, Darnell Dockett's first few days at San Francisco 49ers headquarters were a bit touch and go.

After spending more than a decade as an outspoken leader of the rival Arizona Cardinals, Dockett sensed some initial uneasiness as he crossed paths with his new teammates – the same guys he used to battle against in the NFC West.

"It's kind of awkward at first," Dockett said, smiling. "I walked past (Joe) Staley about four times before we actually spoke. We kind of shook hands and put it behind us. We're on the same page now."

Speaking to the media for the first time since signing with the 49ers as a free agent in March, Dockett expressed excitement in joining a veteran roster that is hungry to get back on top following an 8-8 season.

"This is probably one of the most talented teams I've ever been on," Dockett said. "The hard thing now is just trying to get it all together and have everyone buy in to the new coaches and new system. But I've been here before, so I know it's possible.

In 11 seasons, the veteran defensive tackle has amassed 40.5 career sacks and three Pro Bowl selections.

"This is the NFL. You have to go play the game on Sunday. Our focus is to make sure we're getting better day in and day out. Everything else will take care of itself."

Dockett can relate to his new team having something to prove. The pass-rusher missed the 2014 season rehabbing an ACL tear. Add that to the Cardinals releasing him this offseason and Dockett has plenty of fuel for his fire.

In his Twitter bio, Dockett even proclaims himself the "2016 comeback player of the year."

Dockett is not participating in the 49ers first minicamp practices this week, but he said his knee is progressing well.

"I'm right where I need to be. Trust me," Dockett said. "I'm taking my time. I'm not in no rush with how many OTAs and minicamps I've been to. I'm trying to make sure I get to the season without having to take a step back."

As for how Dockett is fitting in with the 49ers new coaching, the three-time Pro Bowler reiterated his respect for Jim Tomsula before offering a light-hearted critique of defensive coordinator Eric Mangini.

"Mangini so soft spoken, so I tell him, 'You've got to speak up, I'm used to getting yelled at.'" Dockett said. "But really, it's coming along. There's has a lot of experience from over the years. The biggest thing is trying to get a feel for the language and understanding what they want from the defense. I expect great things."

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