Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Undrafted 49ers LB Marcelino McCrary-Ball sets sights on proving doubters wrong

Aug 14, 2022 at 4:41 PM--

Earlier this offseason, one new defensive teammate impressed Nick Bosa so much that the San Francisco 49ers pass rusher wanted to know what round the Niners selected the player. The rookie that impressed the defensive phenom was linebacker Marcelino McCrary-Ball, an undrafted linebacker.

McCrary-Ball spoke with reporters after Sunday's practice. While most players offer the media short answers to get through the press conferences quickly, McCrary-Ball does things differently, admitting to having a tendency to rant.

However, the rookie linebacker's sincerity and openness make him someone you want to cheer for during his NFL journey. So it's good that things have been trending upwards for McCrary-Ball during training camp.

McCrary-Ball hauled in one of the 49ers' three interceptions during Friday night's preseason win against the Green Bay Packers.

"I see the ball in the air for like 30 seconds," McCrary-Ball said. "I was literally like, 'This is not real.' My mindset whenever I get the ball is two things: I'm always trying to get in the end zone by any means, and the first guy is not tackling me. ... It sucks that I didn't get in the end zone. I would have been so hyped."

McCrary-Ball admitted that he appreciates everyone who is a part of the organization that gave him a chance—from the coaches to the cafeteria workers. The linebacker reflected on April's draft. He wasn't watching the event, instead spending time with family in South Florida and swimming with his three-year-old daughter at the beach. As the rounds passed, the realization that he might go undrafted sunk in.

"I would have loved to have gotten drafted, just to prove to people, who didn't think I'd get here, wrong," McCrary-Ball said. "That comes from elementary teachers, the school resource officer, high school teachers, who have you, kids I was in school with that thought I was trash early on in my freshman year of high school, like I was garbage. ... All those people, that's the only reason I wanted my name to be called whether it was the last pick. And the 49ers had the last pick. I didn't care. I just wanted them to hear my name."

His name wasn't announced during the draft. However, McCrary-Ball was on the beach with his brother's family when a call from general manager John Lynch came.

"He called me, and I decided I'm coming here," McCrary-Ball said. "From that day, I'm like, 'I'm making the team.' I have dedication. I have belief. There's no doubt that I know I'm going to make the team."

He picked the 49ers because he wanted to go to an organization where he could learn and grow. It's an iconic franchise with a linebacker group led by All-Pro Fred Warner.

McCrary-Ball is focused on learning the position inside and out, soaking in whatever the 49ers want to teach him. He wants to ensure that if anything happens to one of his new teammates, he can step in, and the defense won't miss a beat.

An ACL injury forced McCrary-Ball to watch his Indiana teammates from the sidelines during the 2020 season. If not for the setback, he feels he was primed for a breakout year.

"The lessons I took from that, and the moments I cherish from that was I got to spend so much time with my daughter," he said. "Like, so much time with my daughter. During my rehab, I was able to see the other side of not being on the field. As far as thinking I wouldn't be able to make it, I knew I'd be able to make it because of the way I was attacking my rehab.

"The beginning was not easy. When I tore it, during that month of recovering, I was like, 'I could play. I don't even need to get surgery. ... Just put me in zone, and I'm good. Man-to-man, I probably won't be able to do but just put me in zone, just reading the quarterback, I'll be good.'"

McCrary-Ball never doubted his ability or determination. He knew he would return to form. Now, he is on the cusp of making an NFL roster and proving doubters wrong. For the linebacker, there was never a doubt that he would be here.

"I'm just appreciative of being here, real deal," he added. "And I just want to do whatever I got to do to, one, stay here, but also be a part of a Super Bowl-bound team, which is the 49ers, real deal."

McCrary-Ball is an easy guy to root for, and if he continues trending upward, fans will hear a lot about him in the future.

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