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Route 53: QB Jeremiah Masoli


Saturday's preseason matchup between the 49ers and Raiders should be an interesting one for the Masoli clan. While most of them are members of the 49ers Faithful, there is a small faction of Oakland fans, too.

Rest assured, though, Jeremiah Masoli has been rooting for the 49ers since Day 1.

"You already know," Masoli said. "Red and gold all day."

Like his father before him, Masoli wore the No. 8 during his days at the University of Oregon – where he became one of the nation's most electrifying dual-threat quarterbacks – and eventually at Ole Miss. His number also had something to do with legendary 49ers signal-caller Steve Young, whom Masoli rooted for as a kid growing up in San Francisco.

"Steve Young was one of my role models, one of the guys I try to pattern my game after," Masoli said. "Not only the way he threw the ball, but the running and being tough and having that heart."

Though the name plate above his locker still bears No. 29, the first number he was issued with the team, Masoli has had the No. 3 across his chest all training camp. The 49ers originally signed Masoli as a prospective running back, but he is currently locked in a three-man battle with fellow undrafted rookie McLeod Bethel-Thompson and veteran Josh McCown for the third-string quarterback spot.

Alex Smith and rookie second-stringer Colin Kaepernick received all of the snaps under center during the preseason opener last week in New Orleans, but Masoli said he feels confident with his grasp of the offense, no matter what role he has.

"I've been quarterback my whole life so that's where I'm naturally comfortable," Masoli said. "On the other hand, the more things I can do to help the team, the better. I'm just trying to contribute in any way I can."

Masoli said he feels lucky to be receiving guidance from Harbaugh, who spent 14 years in the NFL as a quarterback and has since developed a top-notch reputation working with signal-callers. For the most part, Masoli said he's kept his eyes open and his mouth shut, trying to soak in as much knowledge as he can. Masoli also has the benefit of working with quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst, who enters his 19h season as an NFL coach.

"I love coach Geep," Masoli said. "He's a real good guy, first and foremost. On the coaching side of things, he just tries to make it simple for everybody. Even though everything is complicated and sophisticated, he helps break it down to a level to where we can just go out there and execute without thinking too much."

If he has his way, Masoli will be on the 53-man roster by Week 1, working with the 49ers' talented crop of skill players like tight end Vernon Davis and wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Growing up in San Francisco, Masoli points to Terrell Owens' game-winning catch against Green Bay in a 1998 Wild Card game and the 49ers' epic comeback in the 2003 playoffs against the Giants as one of his favorite memories.

Masoli spent the first three years of his high school career at Serra in San Mateo before finishing up his prep career in Hawaii. But he would win a national title at San Francisco City College in 2006 before going to Oregon to begin his robust college career.

With so many family members asking for tickets to this weekend's showdown, Masoli said he's even had to ask teammates for their complimentary tickets just to meet his quota.

Not that he's complaining.

"I've had this dream of playing in the NFL and now that I am here and it is for the Niners, it just makes it all that much sweeter," Masoli said. "My family is super pumped for me, they're some hardcore Niner fans."

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