Trent Dilfer is a familiar face around the 49ers, but the last time he appeared in street clothes at a 49ers practice was back in May of 2006 at the 49ers mini camp.
Back then San Francisco had just traded the Cleveland Browns for the services of the veteran, who was still recovering from knee surgery and had yet to pass his physical.
The newly-retired quarterback observed Sunday's morning training camp practice, and oddly enough Dilfer still couldn't pass a physical Dilfer recently had surgery to repair a torn Achilles' and is in a boot and on crutches.
Dilfer, who recently signed a three-year contract with ESPN, took some ribbing from his old teammates over the injury.
"Fall off the set?" asked long snapper Brian Jennings.
Ironically, Dilfer's injury actually occurred while on vacation in Colorado.
"I was playing basketball," laughed Dilfer. "I wasn't even running, just shooting the ball and it ruptured."
Although Dilfer has done work before for NFL Network, observing the 49ers practice from the sidelines with the rest of the media was an entirely new experience.
"It is weird to be here," said Dilfer. "The weirdest part is just not being out there. For almost 20 years, this time of year, I was in some type of camp. It's an adjustment, but one I knew I was facing."
Dilfer stopped by to watch practice and do some reconnaissance for his upcoming every Sunday and Monday gig at ESPN's home in Bristol, Connecticut.
"I think you look at it from a little bit of a different perspective," said Dilfer of the career changeup. "As a player you are worried about every little detail and you are engulfed in the learning process and executing out there at practice. Now I'm trying to get an idea of personnel and an understanding of the system so that during the season when it's my job to analyze the 49ers, I have a better idea of what I'm talking about."
Dilfer already knows a lot about the two guys – Shaun Hill and Alex Smith - currently the hottest topic of debate when it comes to the 49ers.
"However it unfolds, they are going to be better than they were last year, and the 49ers should be better than they were last year because of that," said Dilfer. "Shaun will be better because he got playing time and experience running the show, and Alex because you can't go through that type of adversity and not be better for it. He's had some great challenges and overcoming them is really going to make him a better player."
Dilfer might eventually chime in on ESPN with his opinion about which one of his two friends he thinks will win out. For now, he's sticking to only when he thinks the 49ers should reach their decision.
"I don't think you want to go late in the preseason not knowing who your quarterback is," said Dilfer. "So, the first few preseason games for the 49ers are probably more paramount than they are for other teams. Not only are they installing systems and trying to get some cohesiveness, but they are trying to identify who their quarterback is going to be."
And when decision day does come, Dilfer expects the "loser" to continue on with business.
"I hope if I have a legacy at all with the 49ers that it was that I taught them a little bit about football, but most importantly, showed them what it means to be a great teammate at the quarterback position. In our room, we always emphasized that we couldn't be successful unless that room knows how to compete but at the same time, help support and be a cheerleader for one another. We always made sure we had an absolute blast working hard and getting better and knowing that this thing is about wins and losses, not your personal achievements."