The San Francisco 49ers will reveal their passions beyond the game through their customized footwear for the NFL’s 2021 My Cause My Cleats campaign in Week 13. Players have the opportunity to represent their chosen organization through their personally designed cleats to raise awareness around a cause that is important to them.
This year, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will also be joining the players with their own unique kicks.
With red, white and blue customized sneakers, Lynch is representing his own organization: the John Lynch Foundation. John and his wife, Linda, founded the organization in 2000 as a way to provide encouragement for high school student-athletes with a focus on growing leadership skills. The John Lynch Foundation recognizes students for their academic performance, athletic accomplishments and community involvement by electing "Stars of the Month" and have also contributed more than $1.2 million through scholarships.
A few 49ers players are recognizing organizations that they have also founded themselves. In support of youth education, defensive end Arik Armstead is dedicating his cleats to his own Armstead Academic Project. Founded in 2019, his mission is to "ensure every student, no matter their socioeconomic status, has direct access to quality education through a positive learning environment and resources needed in order to thrive and be successful."
"When I sat down and thought about how I could have the biggest impact in Sacramento, the No. 1 glaring theme in terms of when you look at equality in our society, the achievement gap and financial gap between socioeconomic classes, education was glaring for me to address some of those issues," Armstead said.
San Francisco's wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who is inactive on Sunday with a groin injury, is recognizing the Deebo Samuel Foundation, an organization he founded in July 2020 alongside his marketing agency, ESM Football. Together, they support underserved youth by providing scholarships for college-bound Black student-athletes in his hometown of Spartanburg, SC.
"It's not just about being an athlete," Samuel said. "I think a lot of people look up to guys like me and other guys in the league ... You have a lot of kids that really don't even know us, but they see us as athletes. They listen to the things we say and they're paying attention. We have to use our platform, not only as athletes, but to be more vocal to help encourage positive change."
Defensive end Samson Ebukam established the T&S Foundation in 2020 on behalf of his mother, Stella, and his father, Tobias. After experiencing the daily injustices from his childhood that occurred in Onitsha, Nigeria, Ebukam set out to give back and uplift the people his hometown. Some of the needs his foundation addresses are displacement, food insecurity, climate-related issues, disease outbreaks and violence against women.
"All we're trying to do is help the people of Nigeria with humanitarian needs," said Ebukam. "It's supposed to look like Dubai but it doesn't because it's getting exploited. We give food, school clothes, soccer balls ... just so they know there's somebody here that actually cares for them."
Here's a full list of causes that will be represented by the 49ers on Sunday:
- Arik Armstead – Armstead Academic Project
- Alex Barrett – A Walk on Water
- Daniel Brunskill – TR 4 Heart and Soul
- Ross Dwelley – Autism Tree Project Foundation
- Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles – IAmYou360
- Jimmy Garoppolo – Good Things Foundation
- Trey Lance – Fellowship of Christian Athletes
- John Lynch – John Lynch Foundation
- Alexander Mack – Eat Learn Play
- Josh Norman – STARZ24
- Taybor Pepper – Gamers Outreach Foundation
- Deebo Samuel – Deebo Samuel Foundation
- Ambry Thomas – TUFF
- Mitchell Wishnowsky – Hope for Paws
- Eddie Yarbrough – Special Olympics
- Azeez Al-Shaair – Alzheimer's Association
- Jake Brendel – Living For Zachary
- River Cracraft – Hilinski’s Hope
- Darrion Daniels – Lupus Foundation of Northern California
- Maurice Hurst – Colon Cancer Coalition
- Dontae Johnson – Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
- Kyle Juszczyk – The Prostate Cancer Foundation
- Zach Kerr – Foundation of Sarcoidosis Research
- Mike McGlinchey – Donor Network West
- Jaylon Moore – American Cancer Society
- Emmanuel Moseley – University of California San Francisco COVID-19 Relief Program
- Mohamed Sanu – Camp Okizu
- Kyle Shanahan – Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research
- Trent Sherfield – Sarcoma Foundation of America
- Laken Tomlinson – NAMI
- Fred Warner – Born this Way Foundation
- Trent Williams – Sarcoma Foundation of America