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49ers’ rookie receiver Ronnie Bell is impressive in preseason debut

Aug 14, 2023 at 3:00 PM

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San Francisco 49ers' rookie wide receiver Ronnie Bell had an impressive performance in his preseason debut and is making a strong case to make the 53-man roster.

The 49ers drafted Bell in the seventh-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, as the 253rd overall selection. Bell played college football at the University of Michigan where he racked up 2,269 yards on 145 career receptions and nine touchdowns. In 2022, as a senior, Bell played in 14 games and caught 62 passes for 889 yards and four touchdowns.

Bell entered offseason workouts and training camp prepared to compete and his production quickly caught the attention of the coaching staff and teammates. After his preseason debut, he looks like he could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.

Bell was actively involved in the offense and special teams in the 49ers' 34-7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.

Bell led the team with 58 yards on three receptions and was targeted six times, the most of any 49ers' receivers. One of those receptions was a highlight-worthy over-the-shoulder catch down the sidelines for 37 yards from 49ers' quarterback, Sam Darnold, in the third quarter.

He also made a tough, contested catch in traffic for 16-yards.

Bell made his presence known in the run game, when he took an end around sweep to the right side for 15 yards, while grinding through contact to gain additional yards.

This play was crucial as it was the 49ers' initial first down of the game and led to the team's only touchdown drive. These are the exact type of extra effort plays that will earn him a role in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

Bell was also active in special teams. He returned three kickoffs for 58 yards and fielded two punts.

Overall, it was a good debut for Ronnie Bell; he did let a pass from Brandon Allen go through his hands and resulted in an interception that setup a late touchdown for the Raiders, but these are the rookie mistakes he will need to work through and learn from.

Bell will need to continue to play at a high-level during practices and the remaining preseason games if he wants to make the final roster. The 49ers wide receiver group is set at the top with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings, but Bell has a great chance to earn a role as a fourth or fifth receiving option to start the season.
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