When the 2013 football season ended, Brandon Thomas had the projection to be a possible first round draft pick. He would end up tearing his ACL during a pre-draft workout with the New Orleans Saints and as a result his stock would drop.
After sitting out the entire 2014 season, Thomas has felt good returning to the football field for the first time since the Orange Bowl of January 2014. On Saturday against the Houston Texans, he saw his first action in a San Francisco 49ers uniform.
“It felt really good [playing football],” Thomas said on Tuesday. “It’s been a long time coming. I was excited to get back out there and show what I could actually do. It just felt good. The first hit kind of took me into the game, and then I was like, ‘okay, I can do this’.”
Thomas was on the field for 21 offensive snaps in the first preseason game. In flashes, he showed he can be a solid run blocker at the right guard position. He was originally a tackle in college while at Clemson.
He said his journey back to the football field would be a grind, but worth the wait. Thomas spent last year rehabbing to be ready for this season.
“All summer I worked with the strength staff,” Thomas said. “We knew it was going to be a process. Early on, everyone could tell I was playing straight-legged. I needed to work on changing direction. But as time moved on I felt like I got better. It’s still a long way to go, but I feel like I’ve gotten better in the process. You have to understand the process, and I think we all understand it.”
Thomas is competing for a starting job at the guard position with the loss of Mike Iupati on the interior of the offensive line. Alex Boone was switched over to the left side from the right guard position which he held from 2012-2014. Thomas is currently penciled in as the starting RG in comparison to his competition of Dillon Farrell and Joe Looney.
While his work with the 49ers has been at guard, he said he is ready to play tackle if called upon. He was happy about his play and can be an underrated contributor for the offense in 2015.
Even though he is thinking about competing for a starting job, he is aware of those behind him on the depth chart. Competition is a free for all among players in training camp, which makes everyone improved.
“I feel like everybody is competing for a starting job,” Thomas said. “This is the NFL. It’s training camp. Everybody wants to play. Everybody wants to make the 53.”