ALLEN PARK >> A trade was perhaps the last thing on Eli Harold’s mind.
As a San Francisco 49er linebacker, he had played in every game for the past three seasons and had been a starter in 10 games last season.
He and his wife, Kelsey, had just moved into a new rental home. And the bigger news is that she was expecting their first child — a daughter — on Oct. 3.
Then on Thursday he got a surprising call from 49ers general manager John Lynch with news of a trade to the Detroit Lions.
“It’s tough, but ultimately I’m doing what I love to do. That’s what it’s all about. I’ve played this game since I was a child and as long as I’m still playing, I’m happy,’’ Harold said after practice on Tuesday.
(Photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Monday was his first practice with the Lions where he’s got to be a quick-study of a new defensive scheme.
“It’s tough, but luckily still preseason and I’ve got time to learn the playbook. I’m here with a lot of vets, I’m excited about that,’’ said Harold who is 6-foot-3 and 247 pounds.
For him, it’s a big plus that he can learn from the veterans who, even if they are new to Detroit, can help him learn the system.
“I’m learning the basic nuances of the defense. Like I said, wherever they put me I’m going to do my best and strive and help, I just want to compete wherever I am,’’ said the 24-year-old Harold who is in a contract year.
“This is a guy who’s got great leverage. He’s really long, does a good job with his punch and his strike, and you can really kind of see him use that leverage to his ability especially out on the edge,” coach Matt Patricia said. “Now he’s also a really good —showing some flashes in the pass rush game, too, which is positive from that standpoint. So, we’ll see what that looks like when we get him in.”
The Lions will face the 49ers at San Francisco in Week 2 of the regular season.
“It’s marked, it’s definitely marked (on the calendar). It hurt. I started my pro life there. Me and my wife moved out there my rookie year. All my close friends are out there. We built a group of guys, we all came in this thing together. It hurt, but onto new things,’’ Harold said. “We have a good group of guys here, I’m excited.’’
His wife is 34 weeks pregnant, just making the cut-off so she was allowed to fly to Michigan.
“She’s here, we just found her a doctor, everything is good with her,’’ Harold said.
Expect to see him play in the final preseason game on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.