Safety Cory Nelms, with the blessing of the 49ers coaching staff , left the practice field Monday to watch the Olympics. Specifically, he watched his longtime girlfriend T'erea Brown advance to Wednesday's finals of the 400-meter hurdles.
"I wanted to go (to London)," Nelms said, "but I'm in a situation where I need to stay here and definitely compete for a spot on this team, and try to help this team do what we want to do ."
Brown, who began dating Nelms six years ago as University of Miami track teammates, has run personal-best times the past two days at the London Games.
Her time of 54.21 seconds was fifth-fastest Monday. The top-four finishers: Natalya Antyuh (Russian Federation) 53.33, Zuzana Hejnoua (Czech Republic) 54.08, Lashinda Demus (USA) 54.08 and Kaliese Spencer (Jamaica) 54.20.
Nelms was asked by secondary coach Ed Donatell if he wished to be excused from practice. He watched the race online in the team's public relations office next to the practice field.
"The race was great. She got out good," Nelms said. "It seemed she was falling back but that's because the other competitors were coming up. She ran her own race. She PR'd again, like yesterday. She's definitely peaking and is on the right track."
To medal, Nelms believes Brown will have to run under 54 seconds.
"She can do it," Nelms said.
Nelms also excelled in the hurdles at Miami, specializing in the 110- and 400-meter events. He won
"We ran track together so we saw each other every day, grew a liking to each other and started dating," Nelms said of he and Brown.
A walk-on to the Hurricanes' football program, Nelms signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent last year. He spent the season on the practice squad and earned the Thomas Herrion Award, presented annually to a rookie or first-year player in honor of Herrion, who collpased and died after a 2005 exhibition game in Denver.
Nelms switched from cornerback to safety this season, and that should increase his odds of making a roster stacked with returning defenders. Nelms feels the position also better suits his physical style. He's likely competing against C.J. Spillman, Trenton Robinson, Colin Jones, Michael Thomas and Mark LeGree for a backup role.
For those keeping score , Nelms said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at Miami's Pro Day last year.
Ashton Purvis set state and national junior college records in the 200 in May (22.86 seconds) while representing Laney College. She transferred there from the University of Miami, and she is next heading for Texas A&M.
Deante Purvis, a Pinole Valley High School product, hopes his six siblings can come to Friday's exhibition opener so they can see him suit up for the 49ers, a team he's rooted for since childhood even though others in his house were Raiders fans.
Nelms' choice for bronze: Randy Moss. "Randy can still get down there," Nelms said.
Other contenders, as nominated by Nelms and Purvis: cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock; Spillman; receiver Kyle Williams and tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker.
What about rookie LaMichael James? "I haven't seen him open up yet," Nelms replied.