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Ellington Cousins Make 49ers-Cardinals Matchup a Family Affair

Posted Sep 17, 2014

When the 49ers wide out and Cardinals running back square off on Sunday, the meeting will mark the culmination of a lifetime of friendly dustups.

When Bruce and Andre Ellington square off on Sunday in the desert, the meeting will mark the culmination of a lifetime of friendly dustups.

From backyards in Moncks Corner, S.C., to the field at Berkeley High School to landmark college stadiums in the heart of football country, the cousins have met on the gridiron at every stage of their careers.

Next up: playing against each other in the NFL.

Bruce, a rookie wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, and Andre, a second-year running back for the Arizona Cardinals, are more like brothers off of the field. But when the lights come on at University of Phoenix Stadium, it’ll be all business.

“We don’t talk about football now,” Bruce said, smiling. “Hopefully he’ll come ready to play because we’ll be ready to play.”

The last time the cousins matched up came back in 2012, when Bruce’s South Carolina squad traveled Death Valley to face Andre’s Clemson team. Bruce recorded seven catches for 72 yards while Andre rushed 15 times for 72 yards.

South Carolina won the game, 27-17, giving Bruce a pair of collegiate victories over his cousin, who is two years older. Andre is anxious to take his revenge on Sunday.

“The only memories I’ve got are that he’s 2-0 against me,” said Andre, whose Tigers also lost to the Gamecocks in 2011. “I haven’t had the chance to win a game against him unfortunately, but we’ll see about the future.”

When Bruce declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season at South Carolina, Andre, who was coming off of a 652-yard rookie season for the Cardinals, lobbied for his team to spend one of its picks on his cousin.

“Yeah, he was in my office a couple of times,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during a conference call on Wednesday. “I said ‘Hey, you don’t need to sell him to me, man. I love him.’”

Arizona ended up selecting Pittsburgh wide out John Brown in the third round, leaving Bruce available for the 49ers to grab in the fourth round.

This week, Andre has made it a point to warn his Cardinals teammates about Bruce’s shiftiness in open space.

“You have to wrap him up; he’s elusive,” Andre said. “He’s got great speed; he’s strong. You have to stick with your tackle.”

With just two running backs on the active roster – Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde – the 49ers have floated the idea of involving Bruce in the running game. Andre believes his cousin could be a valuable asset on the ground regardless of whether he takes traditional hand-offs or comes out of the slot for jet sweeps.

“He’s able to do it, just him being as athletic as he is,” Andre said. “He can play any position… I saw him play quarterback in a Wing-T style offense, in which the quarterback is always running the ball, so he has great talent at that.”

As for Andre, Bruce has been providing his teammates with a scouting report of sorts as well. 

“He brags about how fast (Andre) is and how fast they are being related,” safety Eric Reid said. “We have to make sure we contain that.”

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