Swim move: 49ers draft class has diverse sports background – Sacramento Bee
Want your son to play in the NFL? Then throw him in the pool. Or hand him a tennis racket or cricket bat.
Those sports were just a few of the non-football activities the 49ers’ most recent draft picks took part in as kids, thus supporting the stance held by former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and others that the best athletes usually are the ones who played multiple sports.
According to the site Tracking Football, all but two of the players selected in the first round of the recent NFL draft had experience in at least one other sport in high school and 88 percent of the players selected overall were multi-sport prep athletes.
The most common sports beside football were track, basketball and baseball — in that order. The 49ers’ draft class, however, included a lot of other sports. To wit:
1A. Solomon Thomas. The 49ers’ top pick in the 2017 draft lived in Australia from ages 2-7 where he played soccer and was a swimmer. “I swam and was a pretty serious swimmer,” Thomas told Sports Illustrated last year. “I rocked a Speedo pretty good.” Thomas also lettered in basketball at his Texas high school.
1B. Reuben Foster. Tracking Football lists him as taking part in track and field in high school, though it’s very hard to find a record of that. (Please advise if you can find information).
3A. Ahkello Witherspoon. Witherspoon is the rare athlete who could have played at the Division 1 level in four sports: football (cornerback), soccer (midfielder), baseball (outfielder) and basketball (guard). Witherspoon said that if he hadn’t chosen football, soccer would have been his specialty. He also was the kicker on his high school football team.
3B. C.J. Beathard. The 49ers quarterback led the state of Tennessee in passing yards and touchdown throws as a junior and senior. In addition, Beathard was a four-year letterman in baseball as a pitcher and outfieder. He also formed a three-man band with his two brothers. C.J. played guitar and was the lead singer.
4. Joe Williams. San Francisco’s newest running back was a track-and-field standout in Pennsylvania, winning outdoor track titles in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash.
5a. George Kittle. The tight end was a power forward on the court, lettering twice in that sport.
5B. Trent Taylor. The diminutive receiver almost rivals Witherspoon for sports diversity. In addition to football, he played basketball and took up tennis his senior year of high school. He and the quarterback of the football team were doubles partners, and the pair was good enough to finish second in the state. They lost to their school’s other doubles duo in the championship match.
6A. D.J. Jones. He played basketball in South Carolina and also was a shot putter and discus thrower. In 2013, Jones won a state title with a shot put throw of 50-feet, 10 inches.
6B. Pita Taumoepenu. He grew up in Tonga playing cricket and rugby. He attended high school in Utah where he ran track — 100 meters and 200 meters — and played football.
7. Adrian Colbert. The 49ers defensive back was a four-year letterman in track and field in Texas and was a 3A state champion in the 400 meters (48.27) as a junior.