After being signed and released eight times in his NFL carreer, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Eric Bakhtiari has finally had the oppurtunity to play an entire four quarters for a team.
Sure it's just preseason, but this is the prime time for 'blue-collar' guys like Eric to use this platform to prove to teammates, fans and most importantly coaches, that he belong's on the 53-man roster.
Eric led the 49ers' defense in Saturday night's game against the Houston Texans with seven total tackles, hence marking the second straight week he's led the team in tackles at the outside linebacker position.
After performing on seven practice squads since being signed by the San Diego Chargers in 2008, Eric has finally seemed to found his niche.
In last week's matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, Eric had a solid performance sacking the quarterback twice (and he nearly had another sack against Texans quarterback T.J. Yates Saturday).
His steady improvement and work ethic this season has been evident to both teammates and coaches. At the age of 27, Eric has proven that dreams are attainable if you consistently work towards them with a never give up kind of an attitude.
"It's not easy playing an entire preseason game," said Parys Haralson of San Francisco. He added, "I look up to him for that. He's always learning and I think he played well today, and last week, too. He's always learning, comes to work every day, understands the defense and he plays hard. I think that's all you can really do, play your heart out and make plays."
This could be another season on the practice squad for Eric, but that doesn't discourage him from working hard to earn his place on the 53-man roster. The last time this dedicated athlete saw playing time on an active roster was in 2010 on the Tennessee Titans' defense for three games.
Eric has proven that he can survive in the league over a length of time, but now is his time to step up and prove that he can thrive.
"It was a good test for me," Bakhtiari said. "To go from snap one until the end of the game, I felt pretty good. I was a little tired at the end, but I tried to compete on every play until the end."
At 6-3, and 250 pounds Eric demonstrated his skill set and ability to perform on a level that can be highly contributive to the 49ers' 3-4 defensive alignment.
Eric has proven in the last two exhibition games that he has what it takes to be on an NFL roster, let's see if coach Harbaugh thinks the same. Harbaugh has spoken of his all-out playing style and has seemed to be very impressed so far. Harbaugh expressed he is eager to see how Eric can build off of his progress.
“That’s an important thing now to come back and put an exclamation on that for Eric Bakhtiari, this week in practice and in games,” Harbaugh said.
For Eric, football has been the love of his life. Unfortunatley, the game that he has been relentlessly chasing since his college days hasn't returned the affection. It takes a lot of passion, heart, and commitment to continue chasing after your dreams and Eric is a master at that.
"Initially, it was so incredible that I was ever in the NFL based on where I came from, so that was really cool," Eric said. "But I always wanted more out of the game than I've done in the game. And that's what drives me."
During the 2010 NFL season, Eric wore five different team's jersey's in a 101-day span, hopefully this season will be the end of his chase and he can settle into Harbaugh's program once more.