SANTA CLARA — Travis LaBoy has always given a little extra when playing the 49ers. Not because he hates them, but because he loved them so much until they snubbed him in the 2004 draft.
LaBoy, who signed a one-year, $1.6 million free-agent contract with San Francisco on April 20, can finally align his emotions.
"I was wearing Roger Craig jerseys back in the day," he said recently during a voluntary offseason practice here. "It was a team I grew up idolizing and watching in all their championships, so it is a dream come true for me."
Now the Larkspur native has to find out where he fits in coordinator Greg Manusky's defense. With 23? sacks over five NFL seasons, he certainly has legitimate credentials as a pass rusher. He had a career-high 6? sacks for the Titans in 2005, and six, plus four forced fumbles, with the same team in 2007. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, he is a tall and rangy edge rusher.
LaBoy also has some things to prove. He sat out the entire 2009 season after undergoing surgery to repair tendons in his left foot, and while on the Arizona Cardinals' injured reserve was hit with a four-game suspension by the NFL for a still-undisclosed violation.
He is cleared to play, and he says he's healthy, but now must jockey for position with returning veterans Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson and Ahmad Brooks on the outside.
At the very least, LaBoy likes Manusky's scheme.
"I think it fits me well," he said. "We did a 3-4 at Arizona, but out here I think it's a lot more dynamic, a lot more sound. So I think it utilizes my abilities, not just as a pass rusher but as an athlete to make plays, and really just be a part of the scheme."
LaBoy was born in Hawaii and returned there for college, but he went to Marin Catholic High as a teenager, leading the Wildcats to North Coast Section titles his sophomore and junior years.
"My junior year we played in the (Marin County Athletic League), not the greatest league, and then my senior year we played independently, so we played all the city teams — the Sacred Hearts, the Cardinal Newmans. We smoked everybody," LaBoy said. "That's a lot of bragging rights in the bay."
LaBoy was inducted into the Marin Catholic Hall of Fame in April.
Now he's ready to return to his roots and help put his first love back on the map, which would justify his decision to sign with the 49ers.
"There was a lot of teams interested, and I think in the end San Francisco is where I wanted to be," LaBoy said. "Not only because of the location, obviously, and being a 49er fan, but because Coach Singletary is bringing this program back to the days of old. So I felt like I wanted be a part of that."
Free-agent CB Will James was expected to arrive in the Bay Area on Monday night, and will meet with 49ers coaches and staff today.
The team signed former UC Davis WR Bakari Grant to a two-year contract. Grant, an undrafted free agent, had participated in the 49ers' rookie camp last weekend on a tryout basis.