The second-year pro cheered on girlfriend T'erea Brown in the final of the 400-meter hurdles from eight time zones away, watching her finish sixth in London after posting a personal best of 54.21 seconds in the Olympic semifinals. Brown ran the final in 55.07. Natalya Antyukh of Russia won it in 52.70.
"It was exciting. Your heart is pumping out your chest," Nelms said after watching the final. "You don't know what's going to happen when that light goes off, and you're just a spectator like everybody else.
"I'm definitely proud of her. I'm definitely sure she went out there and did her best. I'm thinking maybe it's been a long week. Peaking two times back to back, that's a lot on your body. Maybe that's all she had this year."
Nelms is a former hurdler at the University of Miami, where he met Brown and walked on the football team. Nelms also won hurdles in the 60-meter indoor (2009) and 110-meter outdoor (2010) at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships.
Nelms, 24, still misses the sport. Defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs joined him to watch some of the Olympic re-runs at night last week, and Nelms said he had flashbacks to his track days.
"I told him like, 'Man, if I wasn't playing football, I'd definitely be in London right now,' " Nelms said.
Nelms is just happy that 49ers defensive backs coach Ed Donatell approached head coach Jim Harbaugh to excuse the cornerback from practice to watch the hurdles finals. Nelms said he hadn't had a chance to talk to Brown just yet but planned to wish her well -- and he believes she'll be a stronger contender at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"It's definitely incredible, and I'm definitely proud of her," he said of watching Brown in this year's Games. "It was an experience for her and me both."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press