When Larry Grant left the 49ers in 2008 he was an underweight rookie linebacker overmatched by the demands of the position.
He returns three years later a changed man. Grant has put on 15 pounds since the 49ers took him in the seventh-round of the NFL draft and now weighs about 250 pounds. But he said the biggest gains have come inside his head.
"The best thing that could have happened to me leaving San Francisco as a rookie was going to the defensive scheme in St. Louis," said Grant, who spent the last two seaons running Steve Spagnuolo' defense with the Rams. "It's one of the hardest systems in the league. Coming back here, it's not an easy system to learn, but I've adapted to digging deeper into defenses."
Grant (Foothill High) is listed as the second-team "Ted" linebacker behind NaVorro Bowman and ahead of Scott McKillop. After signing with the 49ers last week, he immediately saw action with the first-string unit when Bowman sat out a couple of practices with a minor injury.
The 49ers released Grant at the end of training camp in 2008 because he wasn't physical enough for their liking at the "Ted" position and because they had recently signed veteran Takeo Spikes to play the position. Now Grant is the veteran acquisition.
"I've been a very good studier of the game in the last three years," he said. "It just seems like my confidence is a lot higher. I feel a lot better now with my confidence and my strength. I've adjusted tremendously to the speed of the game."
The 49ers will hold an open practice Sunday at Candlestick Park. The practice will be part of the team's annual Fan Fest, which begins at 11:30 a.m. The practice starts at 2 p.m. and runs through 4:30 p.m. Tickets are free but they must be obtained at 49ers.com
More than 800 people attended the 49ers' annual "Pasta Bowl" event last night in Santa Clara to benefit the team's charity arm, the 49ers Foundation. Of the funs raised, $50,000 will be donated to Fresh Lines for Youth and another $50,000 will go toward City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.
-- Matt Barrows