If fans of the San Francisco 49ers are in search for a new player to rally behind before the upcoming season, look no futher than Brandon Thomas.
The team's third-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Clemson has been a pleasant addition to the offensive line this offseason. At 6-foot-3, 317 pounds, Thomas' presence has given the 49ers a promising talent at the guard position.
So far this offseason, Thomas has lined up next to Joe Staley as the team's left guard, a spot that was manned by departed free agent Mike Iupati for the past five seasons.
Thomas' work ethic and positive demeanor has endeared himself to all those around him, including his head coach.
"You talk about a wonderful guy, but a guy who has really worked hard," Jim Tomsula said after the first week of Organized Team Activities.
Prior to the 2015 NFL Draft, general manager Trent Baalke said that Thomas' selection was made to give San Francisco flexibility on the offensive line. Scouts viewed Thomas as a prized talent coming out of college after he started 30 games at left tackle for the Tigers. Thomas, however, suffered an ACL tear in a pre-draft workout with the New Orleans Saints, causing his draft stock to fall.
Thomas, the 100th overall pick, knew he wasn't going to play as a rookie in the NFL, but he didn't let his time off the field alter his preparation habits.
"Last year I took it upon myself to focus in film study," the 2013 First-Team All-ACC selection said. "That was a major part because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get out there on the field. Film room was a big part for me and especially the weight room. I got my legs stronger and I’m just ready to go."
Tomsula has noticed a difference with Thomas, too.
"When you come back off a leg (injury), you’re medically cleared but now you have to get football going," the 49ers coach said. "There’s a period of time there, (but) you see it now. Those little hitches in the giddy-up, they’re going away every day. it’s just getting better. He’s doing really well."
Thomas has also made the most of his opportunity to line up next to four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley.
"Joe Staley is a great guy," Thomas said. "He’s smart. He’s a great football player, too. He helps me with a lot of things, not just football, but life and (things) in general."
Thomas appears to be in a good place as he maximizes the time he spends in his first full NFL offseason. The good-natured lineman said he's enjoyed being around his offensive teammates on the field and not just in the film room like he experienced as a rookie.
Thomas added that the team's up-tempo practices have been well-received by the entire roster.
Then again, just competing for a defined role on the team is an exciting thought for a player who is essentially entering his rookie season in the NFL.
So back to our original point - what should Thomas' new fans know about their new favorite player?
Who is Thomas?
"A hard-working guy; a physical player... Expect a guy to come in to work hard every day."