Detroit Lions linebacker Eli Harold was not thrilled when he saw that San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch had texted him, asking him to call him back. It’s rarely good news when the general manager is reaching out to you at this time of year, so Harold was preparing of the worst.
He thought he was cut. He thought his career in San Francisco was over.
He was half right.
The 49ers ended up trading Harold to the Lions for just a conditional seventh-round pick, which is as close to nothing as you can get in an NFL trade. Harold, who had been taken first-string reps throughout all of camp, was taken aback by the move.
“It was kind of surprising,” Harold said. “I had been starting there the whole time with the new regime. It’s kind of a surprise. Me and my wife had just moved, she’s eight months pregnant, so it was tough.”
That kind of upheaval would be tough on anyone, especially someone who thought their job was safe. But Harold said he felt some relief that he’s joining a team that actually wants him.
“Luckily it was a trade and not a cut,” Harold told reporters Tuesday. “I’m just excited to be here and that somebody wanted me enough to trade for me.”
And now that he’s in Detroit, he’s all-in, and he’s already looking ahead to Week 2, when Detroit travels back to San Francisco for a date with the 49ers.
“It’s marked, it’s definitely marked,” Harold said with a laugh. “It hurt, man. I started my pro life there. Me and my wife moved out there my rookie year, and all my close friends are out there, and you build a rapport with a group of guys, and we were young.”
And while Harold will obviously have some extra motivation that week, he’s already preparing to move on. Joining the ranks of linebackers as a “SAM/left d-end” (his own words), Harold is just focused on learning the new playbook and using the veterans around him as resources.
“It hurt, but onto new things. I’m happy. I’m settling in. We’ve got a good group of guys here, and I’m excited. I’m really excited.”