Check out the best images from Game 1 of the preseason as the San Francisco 49ers face the Houston Texans.
HOUSTON – Trey Millard's first play in the NFL was very much like his last snap in college.
Millard, a former Oklahoma standout and seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2014, suffered a season-ending ACL tear in October of 2013.
But after a year of extensive rehabilitation work, the young fullback found himself in a familiar position Saturday night against the Houston Texans.
"I tore my ACL on kick-off cover and my very first play of this game was on kick-off cover," Millard said after the 49ers dropped the preseason opener, 23-10, on the road. "I had to get back on it, so it was kind of a full-circle deal. I just love being out there, and I love playing this game. I'm blessed to do it and special teams – I'm ready to play all of it."
Millard wasn't the only 2014 draft pick making a pro football debut. He was joined in the game by guard Brandon Thomas and cornerback Keith Reaser. All three players rehabbed ACL injuries together last season. That made the Houston game an even more memorable experience for the trio.
"We bonded over what we went through and where we need to be," said Thomas, a third-round selection out of Clemson, who saw action at right guard with the second-team offense.
Millard said that going through the rehab experience was easier to handle because others were going through the same emotions of missing the game.
"Last year we spent a lot of time together," the fullback said. "While everybody was out there practicing, we weren't allowed to be out there. We were working out and doing a lot of the same type of excercises with our rehab and talking about how we had the same type of injury. So we definitely bonded over that. It's good to see guys get back to playing."
Reaser finished the game with four tackles (two solo) and a pass breakup. Millard added a special teams tackle. As for Thomas, the young guard was on the field on a Blaine Gabbert-led drive that resulted in a 37-yard field goal from Phil Dawson.
For Millard and Thomas, having NFL game tape to evaluate is a very special thing.
"I'm just blessed for this opportunity," Millard said. "I'm trying to take the most advantge of it as I can. I want to go in and learn from the film and try to do better next week."
As for Thomas, the best moment of his NFL debut was on his very first snap.
"The first hit I took, I was like, 'OK, I guess I'm back at it. It's still football; I can do this," he said.