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Palmer taking advantage of opportunity in San Francisco

Published: Saturday, June 9, 2012 11:00 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, June 11, 2012 12:32 a.m. CST
Caption
(Rob Winner - rwinner@shawmedia.com)
After a reception, Northern Illinois wide receiver Nathan Palmer (81) picks up three yards on a reception during the second quarter in DeKalb on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. Northern Illinois defeated Western Michigan, 51-22. Palmer completed organized team activities with the San Francisco 49ers this past week.

When Nathan Palmer walks around the San Francisco 49ers practice facility in Santa Clara, Calif., he sees references to the team's storied history.

The former Northern Illinois wide receiver is reminded of the franchise's five Super Bowl titles, having completed organized team activities this past week. He hears about the glory days from former 49ers fullback Tom Rathman, the team's current running backs coach, and Keena Turner, the 49ers' Vice President of Football Affairs.

Turner was part of San Francisco's Super Bowl championship teams in 1981, 84, 88 and 89 while Rathman was a member of the 1988 and 89 squads.

Whether it's from stories with Turner or Rathman, or seeing evidence of it in the 49ers' facilities, Palmer hears about Niners history everywhere.

"You learn about it all the time," Palmer told the Daily Chronicle. "You hear about it all the time, whether it's walking around looking at the pictures and posters on the wall."

A win away from the Super Bowl last season, San Francisco is trying to create more history, something Palmer hopes to be part of as an undrafted free agent.

The team went 13-3 in 2011 before losing to the Giants in overtime of the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers also have the reigning NFL Coach of the Year in second-year coach Jim Harbaugh. Over the offseason, San Francisco signed receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.

In 2014, the team will move into a new stadium in Santa Clara.

"It's a great time to be a 49er, especially a young one. I have a great opportunity to learn from the best in the business to ever play," Palmer said. "It's a great opportunity for me to be out here. They've got the new stadium coming, they made a lot of acquisitions."

One Niner Palmer is doing his best to learn from is Moss, a five-time all-pro selection. Moss has gave Palmer tips on going up for passes and bumping defensive backs. He's also helped Palmer maintain his body.

Palmer has had problems with tight hamstrings, so Moss has taught him a couple drills to help the situation.

"This is a guy that I watched growing up," Palmer said. "For him to share some of his information is just a blessing. I've actually watched him work out and do some things on his own."

Heading into the draft, the main question mark about Palmer was his catching ability. He helped ease that concern by not dropping a pass at NIU's pro day. Out in Santa Clara, the Elkhart, Ind. native has seen his catching improve.

Palmer has smaller hands than your average wideout, and Moss has worked with him to strengthen his hands and place them further apart when waiting for a pass.

"Sometimes he'll have me out there catching his helmet," Palmer said. "He'll toss his helmet and he'll go 'that's where your hands need to be when you're catching the ball.' "

Moss is one of a number of talented receivers on San Francisco's roster. There's Manningham, who won a Super Bowl in New York last season, as well as former first-round picks Ted Ginn Jr. and Michael Crabtree, not to mention A.J. Jenkins, the Illinois product who was the team's first-round selection in 2012.

Palmer wanted to go to San Francisco because the 49ers were one of the first teams to contact him, and said he just felt a good vibe. He was going to have to work for his job wherever he went, and felt San Francisco was the best fit.

"Everywhere I go, I'm going to have to compete," Palmer said. "I'd rather go and compete with the best."

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