DENVER, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) The Denver Broncos hosted San Francisco in their third preseason game. Grand Junction's own Ben Garland will be back at Broncos Stadium at Mile High, this time in the scarlet and gold and the Central High alum is glad to be back where it all began surrounded by his family and friends in Colorado.
After playing in 14 games with the Atlanta Falcons, offensive guard Ben Garland became a free agent. When he signed with San Francisco in the spring, he got an added bonus with a return trip home.
"I absolutely love Colorado,” said Garland. “It's a little odd being back in Denver in a different uniform but I'm proud to wear that 49ers logo."
Garland is a Central High grad who's going into his ninth year in the NFL. On Friday, he was back in Denver, a place he spent five seasons with the Broncos, for practice leading up to their Monday night game.
"It is weird because you look back and you know the equipment staff and you know the other equipment staff. You would ask for a towel and you're like, 'no, wrong guy.' It's a little different but I love being back,” Garland said. “This has always been home for me. The Broncos treated me so well in my time here so I love being back here."
"I'm loving it out in Cali. Coach (Kyle) Shanahan, I just love his style of offense. The culture he has developed with the 49ers is second to none."
His path to the 49ers took a lot of twists and turns, but Garland never gave up and even made a position change to extend his career.
"Coming in as a free agent, you don't expect to make it past your first camp. It was one of those things. I'm going to try hard every day, try to develop myself and I'm just blessed to be here."
"I can contribute a lot of my career to Denver. Giving me that first opportunity, training me, allowing me to switch from defense to offense. I really appreciate the coaches that gave me the opportunity."
Now he is back with his family and friends from the Air Force and Grand Junction for the preseason game against the Broncos. Just as the high school football season begins, Garland had a message for everyone back home.
"Go out there, have fun and compete. Go out there and do your best every single play and don't worry about it."
"I just want to say hello Grand Junction. I love you guys. Hometown, keep working hard and we'll see more guys from Grand Junction in the league."