Erik Pears has a fan in his head coach. And the feeling, understandably, is mutual.
Pears and Jim Tomsula share an NFL Europe experience, as well as being underdogs and guys who very few observers gave a chance at first blush.
Re-introducing, then, the San Francisco 49ers right tackle and the Niners' rookie head coach. And yes, Tomsula did push to sign Pears this offseason.
"I'm a big Pears guy," Tomsula said during training camp. "He's one of those tough-nut Colorado dudes that climbed out of some(thing), either got off a horse or climbed out of a mine. That's just what he is. Doesn't say anything, got his wife and four kids and that's about it. He's got that and football. So, he's my type of guy."
As is Tomsula to Pears.
"I'm not sure I've ever been around a guy who loves the game as much as he does and really has a fire for it," Pears said of Tomsula. "It's contagious. It's great to see. It's fun to be around.
"Yeah, he's all ball. That's what he is."
Thing is, Pears was initially signed by the Niners to merely provide depth on the offensive line. But then Anthony Davis suddenly retired before June minicamp.
And the 6-foot-8, 305-pound Pears, a lifelong right tackle who was miscast as a right guard with the Buffalo Bills last season, suddenly had a starting role at right tackle.
It's the second consecutive year he's entered the offseason with one specific gig in mind, but exited with another job.
Last year, he was playing right tackle all training camp, he said, before being switched to right guard before the Bills' final preseason game. He was a 16-game starter but Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of minus-25.0, ranking 76th out of 78 guards in the league.
The glass-is-half-full approach for the Niners? At least he's back at his customary position.
"A journeyman guy," Tomsula said of Pears. "I mean that as a compliment. Some people ... say that and it's not a compliment. That's a dude that grinds. That's a guy, this means something to him.
"The makeup and all of that stuff and the way he plays on game day is, he'll strike you."
And not, presumably, with pleasantries.