The 49ers returned a Purple Heart to its rightful owner before Sunday's game.
National Guard Sgt. Alfredo Gutierrez, who traveled with family from El Paso, Texas to be at Candlestick Park, had sent it and a letter (see text below) to the team following its NFC Championship Game loss to the Giants in 2012.
Gutierrez joined the National Guard in 2004. Five years later, he suffered first-degree burns and a traumatic brain injury as a result of a roadside bomb.
The lifelong 49ers fan spoke with the team in the locker room before they went out onto the field.
"So many things.: disciplined, selfless," Jim Harbaugh said Monday regarding what his team picked up from Gutierrez. "In terms of country, unit that are bigger than himself... those are things that we can learn the most from. He's a fine person and a good friend, and we drew much inspiration from him and the selfless act that he did for his country in serving, which we all respect."
Gutierrez was presented with the official game coin that was used in Sunday’s coin toss ceremony. This military challenge coin, a symbol of achievement and performance, was created specifically by USAA - the presenting sponsor of Salute to Service - for Sunday's Game.
49ers players also weighed in on the significance of Veterans Day.
If there are any Vets that follow me, tweet me back so I can retweet you and give you the praise all of you deserve... #ThankYouVeterans—
Ian Williams(@IWilliams95) November 11, 2013
Bruce Miller(@BruceMill49er) November 10, 2013
Michael Wilhoite(@MichaelWilhoite) November 11, 2013
To the real heroes in the USA, our veterans. May God be with all those who have & are serving now. Much respect.—
Phil Dawson(@phil_dawson_4) November 11, 2013
Thank you to all that serve our country. #VeteransDay—
Michael Thomas(@MJThomas36) November 11, 2013
Want to say thanks to all our men and women who serve this country. #VeteransDay—
Darius Fleming(@dfleming58) November 10, 2013