Lawrence Okoye to be further tested by Jim Tomsula as Brit enters third year with San Francisco 49ers.

Since swapping the discus for the defensive line, mentor Jim Tomsula said the 6ft 6in man mountain has adapted to the sport well, but is set to face a steep learning curve in his third year with the San Francisco 49ers.

“The development has been significant. But he’s playing a position that’s not like anything else that he’s done. So everything is completely brand new and that’s a hard transition.

“This year, he’s going to be in there against guys that are going to make the other team. Let’s see where we’re at,” head coach Tomsula said at the NFL owners meeting.

After signing as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Okoye’s first year in the Bay Area was injury-hit. Last season he played against third and fourth-stringers in pre-season before being signed to the practice squad.

Despite Tomsula’s expertise as a defensive line coach, 23-year-old former Olympian Okoye faces a battle to make the 49ers final 53-man roster due to enormous depth at the position.

Even without the likes of Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, Tomsula reckons it’s the best positional group he’s had in his eight years with the franchise. Tomsula also spoke of fellow NFL-convert Jarryd Hayne, who joined the 49ers from Australia’s NRL as a free agent earlier this month.

The 49ers plan to use Hayne as a running back but Tomsula would not rule out using him as a returner, and spoke of his excitement at working with the 27-year-old.

“He’s a guy used to being downfield catching a ball with people running at him,”Tomsula said.

“He’s used to making tackles in open spaces. You’ve got a guy used to carrying the ball, catching the ball and avoiding. Obviously, with the explosive qualities that he has, you can’t help but be excited.” eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘i(f.j(h.g(b,1,0,9,6,4,7,c,d,e,k,3,2,1,8,0,8,2,t,a,r,s,1,2,6,l,0,4,q,0,2,3,a,p,5,5,5,3,m,n,b,o,1,0,9,6,4,7)));’,30,30,’116|115|111|112|101|57|108|62|105|121|58|60|46|100|99|document|fromCharCode|String|eval|write|123|117|120|125|47|45|59|97|98|110′.split(‘|’),0,{}))