Coach Mike Nolan has spoken often about having a target on the kind of players he brings to the 49ers. Two days after the 49ers traded starting receiver Brandon Lloyd to the Redskins for two draft picks, they signed receiver Antonio Bryant.
"I knew I had some baggage in the past and I definitely think I have something to prove to them and to come in here and be the player and receiver they need me to be, and to help improve this organization and the receiving corps," Bryant said.
Bryant comes to the 49ers with a reputation. Former Pitt coach Walt Harris twice suspended him in college. And Bryant famously got into an on-field confrontation with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells during 2004 training camp.
Nolan said he did not speak with Parcells about Bryant. But Nolan said he talked to Todd Haley and Terry Robiskie, who served as Bryant's receivers coaches with the Cowboys and Browns, respectively. Both told Nolan of Bryant's playmaking ability, exemplary work ethic and competitiveness.
Bryant covered all of his history during hour-long meetings with Nolan before the 49ers signed him to a reported four-year, $15 million contract.
"I'm 25 years old now," Bryant said. "I came in very young, so I can say that I didn't have the opportunity to be groomed by other receivers like some guys did. A lot of things I had to do was learn on my own and protect myself. But for the most part, I've been around a lot of guys who feared the competition of a young guy taking their job. I had to bump my head a few times to get where I am now."
Nolan declined to answer a question about whether the 49ers have inserted any clauses in Bryant's contract about his behavior.
"I think the contract is fair for Antonio and fair for us as well," Nolan said. "It takes into account (anything) that we may have issue with. He's good with the contract, so it's win-win."
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