ENGLEWOOD, Colo –Undrafted free agent C.J. Anderson was back in his home state Thursday night for the Broncos' preseason opener against the 49ers.
The rookie running back went to school across the San Francisco Bay at the University of California and his hometown of Vallejo, Calif. is less than 40 miles from Candlestick Park.
Fittingly, his NFL debut -- a noteworthy one at that -- came in front of his family and friends.
"It felt great being home just being comfortable," Anderson said after practice at Dove Valley on Saturday. "It was my first NFL game but I wasn't too nervous because I had a lot of family sitting in the crowd. It's always good when you have that support behind you."
Anderson led all rushers in yards and attempts with 69 and 15 respectively in San Francisco. In fact, he outgained the entire 49ers team on the ground. He also broke the longest run of the game with a 17-yarder in the fourth quarter.
"I really feel like I took another step," Anderson said after the game Thursday. "That's all it is. I'm focused on the process. I'm coming in undrafted, just trying to make the team. I'm focused on the process, and I'll keep climbing, keep climbing, keep grinding."
While he said Saturday that he hopes to see more playing time in the Broncos' next preseason tilt in Seattle, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase said that they still in the process of "bringing him along."
"You're coming from a younger guy that was an undrafted free agent – you can't just throw him right in with what's going on with the ones," Gase said. "It's a process for him, and I think he's trying to get caught up to speed as quickly as possible."
Anderson has broken several long runs in training camp, including one in the final stretch of practice Saturday morning. He deflected the credit for breaking long runs to his offensive line and help down the field from wide receivers.
In his efforts to make the Broncos' final roster, he's looking to make the most of every opportunity and in doing so he's seen how important those blocks down the field can be.
"I always knew what I could do. I never doubted my talent or my ability it's not a surprise to me," Anderson said. "But I am proud and I am glad I got the opportunity to do it. I just took advantage of my opportunities in front of me. You have some of the guys out there where it's on the line, undrafted guys like me trying to pave their way. So them making the blocks making me look good really makes them look good."
The Broncos have had at least one undrafted player on the roster in each of the last nine seasons, including players like linebacker Wesley Woodyard and cornerback Chris Harris.
Anderson, hoping to be the newest addition to that list, said that's a credit to the organization's ability to find skilled players.
"They always find some type of talent out there, no matter what round. At the end of the day they all say you're here, it doesn't matter how you got here," Anderson said.
"The organization is known for undrafted players to step up and make plays and I'm just trying to put myself in that category."