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Joshua Garnett Takes All-business Approach to Seattle Homecoming

Sunday won't be a standard homecoming for Joshua Garnett. The San Francisco 49ers left guard grew up 35 miles south of Seattle in Puyallup, Wash., but he isn't expecting the welcome wagon upon landing at SeaTac International Airport on Saturday.

He's a member of the enemy now, after all.

Garnett has had friendly banter with his high school buddies this week leading up to the 49ers Week 3 matchup against the Seahawks. His friends offer their support for Garnett on a personal level, but reiterate that they'll still be sporting navy blue on gameday.

San Francisco's 2016 first-round pick has the perfect quip for such comments.

"Ok well you can buy your own tickets then too," Garnett jokes back with his friends.

For some NFL players, road trips home means dozens of tickets to purchase in order to accommodate friends and family. Garnett will only be buying two: one for each of his parents.

Despite his roots in the Pacific Northwest, Garnett was born and raised to be a 49ers fan. His father, Scott, was an NFL player himself and played for San Francisco during a short stint in 1992.

Garnett admits he enjoyed the Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander era of Seahawks football, but he never owned a jersey.

"There's a lot of pride up there in Seattle," he said. "It will be fun to go home and see mom and dad so they don't have to come down here."

The trip home comes on the heels of Garnett's NFL debut in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers. The offensive guard saw six snaps on special teams.

It's certainly progress after being inactive in Week 1, but Garnett is eager for his first snaps with the 49ers offense.

"I definitely want to get out there and contribute more and help the team out. But whatever my role is, whatever the coaches think my role needs to be to make the team as good as it can be, I'm going to do that."

Garnett makes sure to take mental notes when he watches Zane Beadles and Andrew Tiller take reps with the first team offense.

The first-round pick out of Stanford opened training camp working at both guard spots. The coaching staff then moved Garnett back to solely playing left guard, the spot he played in college.

Now that Garnett has a grasp of the playbook and is accustomed to the speed of Chip Kelly's offense, he's back to working on both sides. He knows position versatility will be crucial in order to see his playing time increase on Sundays.

"I have to be able to swing, especially as a guy who's not starting right now. They drafted me in the first round, but if I want to get out there, I can't just be subjected to one side."

Garnett offered a relatable analogy to explain the learning curve at right guard. He described someone who is left-handed being asked to pick up everything with his or her right hand. They'd know how to do so, but it would take time to get comfortable with the new routine.

It's the same situation for Garnett. And that comfort level is coming. Garnett said he's no longer thinking about his footwork and technique, but rather reacting to the play that's in front of him.

The good news is that Garnett is seeing signs of growth. The team provided Microsoft Surfaces allow Garnett to watch every 1-on-1 drill all the way back to his first practice. The stark contrast for the better shows Garnett that he is trending in the right direction.

"I'm a much better football player than I was in college," said Garnett, who was last year's Outland Trophy winner as college football's top interior lineman. "I'm like, 'Wow, if I would have had these tools, what could I have done?'"

His competitive nature is what helped propel him into the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. And while patience is no easy skill to learn, there's no telling when Garnett's opportunity will present itself.

"Once that time comes, I'll be ready," Garnett said. "(But) that time hasn't come yet. Until then, I'm just gonna keep working."

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