Parrish in place at Niners minicamp

When <EM>SFI</EM> asked Tony Parrish why he is at the 49ers' three-day minicamp for rookies and selected veterans this week, the hard-hitting safety threw back the question just as he has been known to throw back ball carriers along the line of scrimmage.

"I guess the question is, why not?" Parrish responded.

Why not, indeed.

Parrish certainly didn't look out of place while he took command in the defensive secondary as the Niners' new starting strong safety. Well, actually, in a way he did look out of place - because he was the only starting defensive back on the field and one of just three San Francisco starters participating in the minicamp.

The other starters participating - defensive end Andre Carter and tight end Eric Johnson, both second-year players - were required to be there. This minicamp primarily is for rookies and veterans who were rookies with the team last year. The Niners actually want their established veterans - particularly their starters - to stay away from this camp so they can give their youngsters a closer look and work with them exclusively and extensively.

But Parrish was having none of that.

"For me, this is just another opportunity to get back on the field," Parrish said. "I need to come out here and work myself into the system."

Parrish - signed on April 2 to a five-year, $12.025 million free-agent contract - didn't have the opportunity to work into the system during the team's first full-squad minicamp at the end of last month.

He didn't participate in that outing, which began April 26, because he had surgery to remove a testicle eight days before. A benign tumor had been found on the gland earlier in the month after Parrish had an MRI exam to inspect a groin injury.

Parrish said he's totally recovered from the surgery. And the groin's doing fine, too.

"I feel good all the way around," he said. "My groin is doing well. It's coming along faster than I thought it would in the last couple of weeks. So I'm trying to get my work in, but at the same time keep from aggravating it. So if I continue to do that and continue on the pace I am right now, I'll be fine. I'm in better shape than I thought I would be. I'm just trying to get myself to where I need to be before the season's here."

So far, so good. Parrish looked quick and fluid during team drills, and displayed his explosiveness toward the line, even though these sessions are without pads and there is no contact.

Too bad. Parrish looks quite ready for a little bit - OK, make that a lot - of hitting right here, right now.

"He's very anxious to be out there," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. "It's great to watch him run around. I keep telling him, 'Just slow down, take it easy, don't overdo it right away.' But, boy, it's good to have him out there. He's very athletic and (he's) going to be a great addition to the defense."

Parrish says he just feels fortunate to be back on the field and able to return to practice after his health scare of last month.

"At the time, it happened so quickly that there was, like, a shock there," Parrish said. "I really didn't have time to think. It happened within the first week that I was out here. So after the surgery, I really had a chance to sit back and say, 'Wow, you know, I just had a testicle removed.' It really does put things in perspective. You realize that it was a situation where things could have been worse. Every once in a while, you just have to sit back and reflect for a minute and just really realize how blessed I am."

With Parrish hopping around lively in their secondary, the Niners no doubt are feeling the same way.


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