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Lawrence Okoye: Football is hardest thing I've done

Football's harder than it looks. That's what Lawrence Okoye has learned during his time with the San Francisco 49ers.

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The British Olympic discus thrower turned defensive lineman was signed in May after a strong showing at the NFL Super Regional Combine in Dallas.

The 49ers fell for Okoye's freaky athletic gifts, but his football experience was limited to watching NFL games on TV from his London apartment. That's changing fast.

The Sacramento Bee reported this week that no 49ers defensive linemen played more snaps in offseason practices than the 6-foot-6, 304-pound Okoye, who admits it's been a trial by fire.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever done, I'm under no illusions," Okoye told the newspaper.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio admits he's working with raw materials.

"He hasn't had anybody hit him yet," Fangio said. "He hasn't had a double-team yet. He hasn't figured out if it's a run or pass, whether he should rush or play the run. So it'll probably be a very slow process with him much more than a normal rookie."

What Okoye offers is size, speed and mysterious potential, so what's the rush? He's an ideal candidate to stash away and patiently develop. A candidate for the practice squad, Okoye obviously has miles to go, but if he pans out, it's a credit to one of the NFL's top coaching staffs.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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