SANTA CLARA -- Lawrence Okoye's first time putting on football pads had 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh reminiscing on Sunday.

"I remember my first padded practice," Harbaugh said, recalling his 1973 Pee Wee football debut with the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Junior Packers.

"I was so excited to put the gear on. I slept with it all around my bed that night."

Harbaugh said he put his thigh pads on wrong the first time he wore them. Okoye, the British former Olympic discus thrower making his first foray into football, had better success when the 49ers had their first practice in pads on Saturday.

"It was impressive that he got the pads put in all the right slots so he was off to a good start," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh sought out Okoye before Saturday's practice and said the rookie defensive line hopeful was nervous. But Harbaugh came away impressed with the 6-foot-6, 304-pound specimen.

"The most noticeable thing is he seems to be a better player in pads. His arm length really shows up in pads," Harbaugh said. "Being able to put his hands on somebody and lock them up was noticeable."

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