After Aubrayo Franklin wrapped up his playing career with the Indianapolis Colts in 2013, he took a year off from football to enjoy retirement.
Soon thereafter, the 11-year defensive lineman felt the itch to return to the NFL in some capacity. Earlier this offseason, an opportunity for Franklin to do just that presented itself when the San Francisco 49ers hired Jim Tomsula as their head coach.
Tomsula coached Franklin on the 49ers defensive line for four seasons from 2007-10, helping the nose tackle to his most productive season in 2009 when he recorded 36 tackles, three pass deflections, two sacks and one interception.
With a strong working relationship in place, Tomsula and Franklin had mutual interest in the former player joining the new 49ers new coaching staff.
Franklin's official title with the 49ers is defensive assistant, but he's working solely with San Francisco's defensive line under position coach Scott Brown.
"You always want to be close to the game," Franklin told 49ers.com last week. "So since I'm not physically able to do it any more, this is the closest I can get. I feel like if I can give back and give some of these guys some pointers to help them out in their careers, I'm all for it.
"And it's been going pretty smooth so far. Being with Jimmy as a player, and now coming back, it's basically the same."
So how has the foray into the coaching ranks gone thus far? San Francisco's current roster actually includes six former teammates of Franklin: Joe Staley, Alex Boone, Vernon Davis, Ahmad Brooks, Shareece Wright and Antoine Bethea.
"It's different. As a player, you're preparing for yourself, not the whole group," Franklin said. "Being a former player brings a different aspect to it because I've been on the other side. I know how a player will learn and it's a great group of guys to work with."
One player Franklin is excited to teach is Arik Armstead. The 49ers first-round pick missed OTAs and veteran minicamp due to an NFL rule, but Franklin said Armstead showed great potential during rookie minicamp in May.
"From Day 1 to Day 2, he looked really good and looked like he was taking strides," Franklin said. "I'm looking forward to working with the kid. He has a great attitude so far, and he's eager to learn."
As for Franklin's aspirations in his new career path, the 34-year-old would like to eventually move up the coaching ladder. For now though, he's focused on the basics.
"As an entry-level coach, I'm just trying to take everything in," Franklin said. "But as the years progress, I want to learn about defense from different positions' perspectives and outlooks on the game. That would help me become more well-rounded."