SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- About 30 minutes into the San Francisco 49ers’ first training camp practice, an important piece of franchise business was being wrapped up in an office overlooking the practice fields.
There, No. 3 overall pick Solomon Thomas was signing his four-year rookie contract with the Niners and general manager John Lynch was taking a photo and composing a tweet to let the world know that Thomas was officially in the fold.
About 25 minutes after signing a deal that's worth more than $28 million and comes with a signing bonus of about $18.6 million, Thomas jogged onto the practice field, where he was greeted by the team's strength and conditioning staff. Because Thomas had not yet participated in the team's conditioning test, Thomas did not take part in the practice.
"It was amazing to get out here and be here Day 1 with my team," Thomas said. "I just ran down to the locker room and threw my jersey on real quick, laced up some new cleats and got out there."
Instead of practicing, Thomas worked with strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright on a side field, where he did the necessary sideline to sideline sprints to pass the conditioning test. When he was finished, Thomas observed the rest of the workout. He will be full-go when the Niners hold practice No. 2 on Saturday, according to coach Kyle Shanahan.
“We’re ready to go tomorrow," Shanahan said. "If he would have gotten in a little bit earlier today we would have had him go out there today. Solomon’s a guy who’s in shape. ... We’ve seen Solomon. We’ve seen his workouts and stuff. He’s a guy I believe is in shape. When I talk to Ray, I think he’ll confirm that and I expect to see him out there tomorrow.”
Thomas on the practice field is certainly a welcome sight for the 49ers, who never had much doubt that Thomas would miss extended time. Still, after last year's No. 3 overall pick -- San Diego defensive end Joey Bosa -- missed about a month with the same representation as Thomas, there were some outside observers wondering when the deal might get done.
For the record, Thomas was never among those who thought his absence might be prolonged.
"I wasn’t concerned at all," Thomas said. "My agent knew. I trust my agent and I hired him for that reason. He knew how fast I wanted to get out there. He knew that I wanted to be out there with the team. I didn’t want to be by myself for another month.”
Thomas had already spent plenty of time alone in the offseason program when NFL rules dictated he couldn't join the 49ers because Stanford had yet to complete its academic year. So Thomas spent the time away working out at Stanford and also with NFL legends such as DeMarcus Ware and Warren Sapp. He also spent time on the phone with defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina, asking questions about the playbook and the film that had been uploaded to his iPad.
Now, finally, Thomas is able to be with his teammates and can turn his full attention to football. He said Friday that he expects to begin working as the "big defensive end" but also believes he'll get the chance to play three-technique defensive tackle in sub packages.
Either way, Thomas is happy the days of endless training are over and football with his team can now be a part of his everyday life again.
"I’m 276 [pounds] right now and I’m ready to go," Thomas said. "I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life and I spent a long time training. I’m ready to go."