When Justin Peelle showed up to as a freshman in 1993, he'd never played a down of organized football.
His first team — the Gaels' freshmen team — went undefeated that year and Peelle was hooked on football.
"It's the first time I was allowed to play by my parents," Peelle said. "I'll never forget that team."
The 1997 Dublin High graduate and 9-year NFL veteran found a new team to play on this week, when he signed a 1-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers on Tuesday.
"It's exciting to be back here (in the Bay Area)," said Peelle, a tight end, who spent the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. "Especially for my parents, they can come to every game now if they want."
Peelle was released by the Falcons on Aug. 18, after the parties agreed to an injury settlement (knee). He rehabbed in San Diego, where he makes his offseason home, and, once healthy, tried out with a few teams.
"It was a no brainer," said Peelle, of his Bay Area homecoming. "I'm back home on an up-and-coming team."
After two years in the Dublin program as an offensive lineman and a linebacker, Peelle switched to tight end in his junior year.
It certainly turned out to be a good move.
"He was 6-4 about 220 then," said former Dublin coach Tim Silva, who coached Peelle in his senior year. "You could tell he had the perfect frame to fill and be a good-sized college tight end."
Silva remembers Oregon, Air Force and UNLV as the only schools who showed interest in Peelle — who is believed to be the last player from Dublin High to earn a Division-I scholarship.
"I went to Oregon because I wanted to play in the Rose Bowl, but Air Force was a tough decision because I kind of come from a military family," Peelle said.
The San Diego Chargers drafted Peelle in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL draft and he spent the next four seasons with the team. After a two-year stop in Miami, Peelle signed with the Falcons.
Now he's come full circle.
"My career is at the end of its bottle," Peelle said. "I'm just in here now trying to learn the offense and get a grasp of it so I can play."
Peelle expects to be active on Sunday when the 49ers host the Dallas Cowboys. He figures to be used mainly as a blocker, but has shown the ability to be a receiving threat over his NFL career.
He's caught 122 passes for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns playing being the likes of future Hall of Fame tight ends Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzales. Peelle is the third 49ers tight end behind Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker and replaces sixth-round pick Colin Jones on the 53-man roster.
For Silva, who is now the head coach at , tracking Peelle's career has been special. In his 20 years as a head coach, he's one of three players to earn a Division-I scholarship. The other two, George and Josh Atkinson, are freshmen at Notre Dame this year.
"Those type of players don't come along very often," Silva said. "The success he's had couldn't have come to a better person."
Peelle and his wife, Sara, will live in Los Gatos during the season with their son, Morris David.