Stanford grad Solomon Thomas, a defensive lineman, signed his first professional contract Friday morning and within minutes was out on the San Francisco 49ers practice field for a workout.
In another part of Levi's Stadium, Cardinal football coach David Shaw, quarterback Keller Chryst and outside linebacker Peter Kalambayi were discussing Stanford's prospects for the coming year.
"You don't replace a guy like that," Kalambayi said. "He's a once in a generation player."
The timing was impeccable. 49ers general manager John Lynch, himself a Stanford grad, announced the signing on Twitter just about the same time Kalambayi was talking about him.
Thomas signed a four-year contract, with a fifth year team option, reportedly worth over $28 million. He had been working out at Stanford.
"I ran down to the locker room, threw my (No. 94) jersey on pretty quick, laced up new cleats and just got out there," said Thomas. "I've been doing a lot of extra work on my own. I was training and getting ready, watching film. I feel like I'm right there with everyone."
Thomas (6-3, 256) was the first of two first-round draft picks (3rd overall) selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL draft out of Stanford University. In three seasons at Stanford, he appeared in 27 games and registered 101 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries and two touchdowns.
"I can tell everyone out there is hungry," Thomas said of his new teammates. "Everybody wants to help rebuild this team, reestablish this team. The energy was great."
Thomas said he's been training since Stanford won the Sun Bowl, beating North Carolina 25-23. Thomas was named MVP of the game.
"We've seen Solomon," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "We've seen his workouts and stuff. He's a guy I believe is in shape. "
In the land down under
In addition to beating Rice when Stanford travels to Sydney, Australia for the season opener on Aug. 26, Kalambayi said there's one thing he needs to do to call the trip successful.
"I want to see a kangaroo," he said. "And not in a zoo. I want to see one in the wild or in a protected area, in the field. That would make my trip."
Kalambayi thinks the trip will help the team bond.
"In training camp, tensions can get hot," Kalambayi said. "In Australia it will be us as a team going against other people. I'm interested in seeing how people act. It will be a test of maturity and to see if we can stay focused."
Chryst taking positive steps
The Palo Alto grad has also been working out, in a much different setting, ever since injuring his right knee in Stanford's Sun Bowl victory. He's feeling better every day.
"My mindset is to be smart and not rush anything," Chryst said. "There will be some limitations, obviously. That's being cautious. I will definitely being doing stuff the first day."
"It's continual education. We want to teach them how to use social media in a positive way. These guys get into it so young, they don't realize how powerful it is." -- Stanford coach David Shaw.