When Eric Wright finished his first practice as a 49ers cornerback early Tuesday evening, he was hit with this feeling.
"I'm just happy that I literally just walked off the field and took that gold helmet off," Wright said in front of his locker stall. "I'm grateful for this opportunity to play for my hometown team and playing for such a storied franchise and pretty much being able to live out my dream."
Wright, sporting a red jersey, participated in the team workout without limitation.
Last a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the San Francisco native signed with the team on Aug. 8. Three weeks later, with the roster being finalized for Opening Day, he was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List.
The 49ers three-week, league-mandated window with which to add Wright -- and wide receiver Mario Manningham and rookie defensive linemen Garrett Celek and Quinton Dial -- to its 53-man roster has opened. All four players practiced on Tuesday.
"There is absolutely a difference between running sprints and trying to simulate playing football as opposed to actually doing it," Wright said, referencing his off-to-the-side work the last three months. "As I gain my reps, that will come to me. There is no timeline or gauge for that.
"My timetable and focus is really on tomorrow morning's meeting and making sure that I go into that meeting prepared and trying to make sure I take what I learn in the classroom and bring it out to the field. I'm focused on what's immediately ahead of me."
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Wright, a seven-year veteran, had been attending team and position group meetings even though he wasn't allowed to practice.
"It's definitely different looking at a piece of paper or looking at film than going through your calls and checks and adjustments, rather than being out there on the field, playing it and getting the reps. I think the reps mean a lot," he said. "It's just a matter of me going out there, reppin' it out with the guys, talking things out and getting acclimated and adjusted.
"No one wants to miss a lot of time. But I'll go out there with a fresh body in Week 7 – that's not normal. I'm just happy that I'm healthy and available and haven't endured that beating of the first six weeks."
When Wright, who has 14 interceptions in 81 career games, makes his 49ers debut remains to be seen. Also uncertain: where in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme he will line up.
One thing is for sure. Wright would join a cornerback corps – led by Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers and, of late, Tramaine Brock – that is a part of the NFC's third-ranked pass defense.
"We have really talented group, a really deep group," said Wright, who added that Brown and safety Donte Whitner, among others, have eased his transition to the team. "(We) really fit with the total scheme of the defense and do what Vic asks us to do.
"Everybody has had a hand in helping me pick up this defense. That's the type of chemistry and cohesiveness that we have as a unit."
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