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49ers legacy players add a ‘fun element’ to 2024 NFL Draft

Apr 24, 2024 at 1:49 PM

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The upcoming NFL Draft holds special significance for the San Francisco 49ers, with ties to several familiar faces from the team's past. A handful of legacy players hope to make their mark, possibly receiving a life-changing call from 49ers general manager John Lynch.

Brenden Rice, son of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, is one such player. The former USC wideout is projected to be a fourth-round draft pick and had the opportunity to meet with the 49ers at the NFL Scouting Combine.

When asked about the possibility of joining his father's former team, Brenden confidently expressed, "Honestly, I just hope I go into the right situation. If the 49ers is the perfect situation for me to go ahead and battle for a top position on that team, then most definitely. I'm prepared for it."

Another aspiring NFL player with a legendary lineage is Terique Owens, son of Hall of Famer Terrell Owens. Terique, a former Missouri State wide receiver, participated in the 49ers' local pro day and is eyeing a potential spot on an NFL roster, even if it means going undrafted.

"Honestly, I started football late, so I'm a late bloomer to this," Terique remarked after the local pro day workout. "But I see myself going as an undrafted free agent. Obviously, I've been working and obviously trying to get that opportunity to get drafted. But, like I said, I'm a late bloomer, and I've just been progressively getting better and hoping to get an opportunity to get drafted."

Frank Gore Jr., son of the 49ers' all-time leading rusher, is also eager to kick off his NFL career. Meeting with the 49ers at the Combine, he's projected to be a late-round draft pick or a priority free agent.

Former Rice wide receiver Luke McCaffrey, son of former 49ers wideout Ed McCaffrey and brother of current 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, recently shared his excitement about the possibility of playing alongside his brother, telling 49ers Webzone in February, "It would be a dream come true."

Elaborating on the comments, Luke added, "That's something that, it would really just be an honor, be a blessing. But I'm so excited to go through this process, just working my butt off to make any team that'll take me."

Projections place Luke as a potential fourth-round draft pick.

With such notable connections to past 49ers players, Lynch acknowledges the nostalgic appeal for fans but emphasizes the need for a thorough evaluation process.

"Well, I believe in bloodlines. I really do," Lynch told reporters on Monday. "I think there's evidence that you should. Then you have to step away from that, and you got to evaluate it. And that's sometimes difficult to do, and that's why [it's important to have] a lot of different eyes, a lot of different perspectives. And that's what we try to do when we have our R&D look at it, we have our coaches look at it, we have our scouting look at it. We try to hit it from a variety of measuring points and inflection points as to how you grade these guys because you don't want to do it just off that. That wouldn't be smart."

Nevertheless, Lynch recognizes the impressive lineage these young prospects bring to the table. Though they must contend with the inherent pressures accompanying their fathers' legacies, their ability to advance this far in their football careers speaks volumes about their inherited talent.

"And so, it's exciting that you have all these great—I mean, we're talking Hall of Fame players and great players and brothers of players—and it's really fun," Lynch continued. "T.O. was out here at the local pro day, and his son, Terique, performed really well, and that was pretty cool. I saw him running at me, and I played against T.O. a lot, and there was something in that stride that was very familiar. It was something about the gait.

"And it's crazy how those things translate. Is that just gene pool? Is that modeling the way they watch their dad run? It's interesting to me but it's a fun element to this year's draft that I think is going to be interesting to watch to see how it unfolds."
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