Nearly 500 prospective football players arrived at the San Francisco 49ers Training Facility in Santa Clara this morning ready and eager to take the field. Kids Club members were invited to take part in the first of two events this season, for a half day of football and fun at the 49ers Santa Clara facilities. Sporting the jerseys of their favorite 49ers, from Jerry Rice to Joe Staley, they were treated to their own drills, fundamentals and coaching. They even received cheers from the Gold Rush cheerleaders after the 49ers'gave them the field.
The day started off with an exclusive view of the 49ers' morning practice, along with fun games, face painting and giveaways. The practice was followed by an autograph session with some of the participants' favorite players. Even the coaches and referees joined the players in welcoming the group to Training Camp with high-fives and pictures.
Then, it was the young players' turn to show their stuff. After some instruction from the Youth Football staff, the Kids Club members charged the field for their own Training Camp practice.
Every Kids Club member got a chance to practice a number of non-contact drills that displayed quarterback, wide receiver and running back techniques. Players of all skill levels were able to learn about throwing, running and catching the ball with the help of the Youth Football staff. But they didn't just work on positional skills: they were taught teamwork, respect, and sportsmanship. The participants gave every effort during the drills and cheered each other on, with the expert assistance of the 49ers' Gold Rush and the Kids Club Coaching Assistants.
The 49ers beloved mascot Sourdough Sam even took the field to help with many of the drills: he stood in for the receiver dummy with the future quarterbacks and caught some of the skillful Kids Club' passes. Ball-carrying was another of Sourdough Sam's favorites. He demonstrated the running backs drill for the participants, breaking through the defensive line dummies with gusto.
Of the many pieces of wisdom the Kids Club members took away from the experience, one of the most vital skills the young players learned was the importance of proper hydration when participating in fun, physical activities.
"We're here to teach Kids Club members about maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle," Ryan Myers, the 49ers Youth Football Representative, said. "But seeing how much fun they were all having together was the highlight of the day."