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49ers' Lawrence Okoye 'under no illusions' about playing in the NFL

Lawrence Okoye is well aware of the challenge ahead of him as he tries to transition from rugby and discus to playing in the NFL.

Jason O. Watson

San Francisco 49ers rookie Lawrence Okoye is no stranger to athletic competition. The 21-year-old from England hadn't played organized American football prior to this spring, however, and faces a long developmental road if he is ever going to prove he's good enough to stick with an NFL team. Lucky for him though, Okoye understands as much.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever done, I'm under no illusions," Okoye told England's Short List magazine (via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee).

The 49ers gave Okoye a lot of reps on the defensive line during spring workouts and he possesses both good size and ideal speed to play up front. The 49ers actually consider his 6'6, 304-pound frame better suited for the offensive line, but decided Okoye could pick up the game more quickly on the defensive side of the ball.

Okoye's background, by the way, is in rugby and discus -- he reached the final of the discus event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

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