Welcoming Bobby Engram back to West

Years ago, when San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich was tackling Seattle Seahawks receiver Bobby Engram, the NFC West rivals probably never thought they would coach against one another.

They will in 2011, with a twist: Engram will be coaching for the 49ers, who hired him as an offensive assistant Friday, against a Seattle team featuring Ulbrich as assistant special-teams coach.

Not every player wants to grind away at coaching. It's good for the game when players as respected as Ulbrich and Engram do decide to go that route, even if it's strange for the rest of us to see them wearing unfamiliar colors.

This is Engram's first coaching job. He played for Chicago from 1996 through 2000, then with Seattle through the 2008 season. He finished with Kansas City in 2009. Engram's strong rapport with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck would become a natural storyline if San Francisco pursued Hasselbeck in free agency.

Engram's background in the West Coast offense makes him a natural hire for San Francisco. Niners coach Jim Harbaugh had long since left the Chicago Bears by the time Engram arrived as a receiver, but they'll speak a similar language from a scheme standpoint.

Engram and 49ers offensive line coach Mike Solari were together with Seattle in 2008.