BILLINGS — Mike Person has always had a soft spot for the San Francisco 49ers.
It was the 49ers who drafted Person in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Montana State. And though he never saw the field and was eventually let go, the veteran offensive lineman and native of Glendive has a second shot with the team that brought him into the NFL.
Person signed a one-year deal with San Francisco on Wednesday. Person, who appeared in 12 games with the Colts last season, worked out for the team Tuesday and was later offered a minimum contract.
Person, who turns 30 next week, said the 49ers have brought him in to add depth at the center and guard positions.
“I wanted to come back here at some point, and I’ve been granted that opportunity,” Person told 406mtsports.com. “It’s definitely a fresh start. It’s a completely different front office from when I was here the last time. I’ll just have to make the most of it.
“It’s pretty cool. There are some familiar faces around the facility from the last time I was here. It’s kind of fun seeing those people. It’s kind of crazy that this is where it all started, and here we are.”
Last week, Person seemed resigned to the possibility that his NFL career was coming to an end after he wasn’t re-signed by the Colts. Still, Person tried to remain in the best shape possible in the event that a team called.
Person spent the past seven seasons with four other franchises — including the Chiefs, Falcons, Rams and Seahawks.
When the 49ers invited him to work out, Person welcomed the chance.
“That’s kind of how it goes when you are a journeyman, that’s how it works,” Person said. “It goes from nothing to something popping up just like that. You have to stay ready.”
Person’s signing reunites him with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was the offensive coordinator in Atlanta in 2015, the year Person started 14 games at center for the Falcons.
Thus, Person has a good grasp of Shanahan’s offensive system, which he says puts him ahead of the curve.
“I know their playbook,” Person said. “I have a really good base for learning everything here. I’m not learning something completely new, so that’s kind of why it’s a good setup.
“It’s a great opportunity to come in and try to earn a roster spot again.”
Person will continue to participate in the 49ers’ ongoing offseason workout program. The first of several scheduled organized team activities begins May 21, and a mandatory minicamp will be held June 12-14. Person will also take part in training camp this summer.
Last year the 49ers went 6-10 in Shanahan’s first season as coach. But Person said they are a team on the rise, led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
“It’s definitely exciting to be here,” Person said. “From the outside looking in you can see the pieces are coming together for them. It might be an exciting couple years here.”
By signing with the 49ers, Person is united with another former MSU offensive lineman, J.P. Flynn. Flynn signed with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent last year.
Flynn spent much of last season on the 49ers’ practice squad before being placed on injured reserve.
“J.P. obviously got (to Montana State) after I was there, but I’ve met him a few times and I’ve talked to him quite a bit,” Person said. “He’s a great kid and it’s nice to have a familiar face from MSU here.”
Person is a 2006 graduate of Dawson County High School in Glendive. He played four seasons at left and right tackle for the Bobcats from 2007-10, and started 35 consecutive games.
Person has played in 43 games at center in the NFL. He has made 18 starts.