49ers Sign Former Stanford OT Kopa

Kopa's defensive line days are behind him

Matt Kopa's strange football journey took another interesting turn today, as the former Stanford standout signed a two-year contract with the 49ers for undisclosed terms. Kopa, who missed most of the 2009 season for Stanford with a broken foot, was contemplating returning to school and actually filed a petition to the NCAA asking for a sixth season of eligibility, before changing his mind.

The 6'6, 303-pound native of Elk Grove, California, actually began his collegiate career as a defensive lineman, similarly to 49ers first round pick Mike Iupati who was a defensive tackle at Idaho before switching to guard and becoming an All-American. Kota made the switch later, moving to offense as a junior.

He's played 35 career games for Stanford, with just seven starts, and six of those came in the final half of the 2008 season where he turned a lot of heads and got the attention of scouts across the NFL. A promising senior campaign however got wiped out by a broken foot suffered in the season opener.

Kopa played mainly right tackle at Stanford with a little left guard mixed in. He's got an uphill climb ahead of him to make the 49ers considering there are already three incumbent tackles on the roster, plus first round pick Anthony Davis and last year's undrafted rookie Alex Boone, who was on the practice squad all last season and has transformed his body under the team's supervision.

It stands to reason that if Kopa impresses, the best he can hope for this year is to follow Boone's path and to nab a practice squad slot of his own. He passed his physical to sign with the team, which is a positive sign that his foot has healed. Now the kid will have to show what he's got on the practice field and hope that Stanford education will enable him to grasp Jimmy Raye's offense and Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari's teaching quickly.

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