Route 53: WR Rabb
80 players are allowed to be on NFL rosters at the start of training camp (81 for the 49ers since they have an international player), and the goal for everyone is to earn their way onto the final 53. Throughout training camp, 49ers.com will highlight some of our newcomers and their Route to the 53. Here's the first installment of Route 53 with 49ers wide receiver Jerard Rabb**.
He's primarily known for scoring a touchdown in one of the greatest games in college football history, but wide receiver Jerard Rabb would like to add a new chapter to his legacy as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout from Boise State University is one of several players battling during training camp for a spot on the 49ers 53-man roster.
Making the team would be another highlight to Rabb's career which includes being the recipient of a hook-and-ladder in the Fiesta Bowl on an over-the-top play perfectly titled "circus."
Rabb is synonymous with the touchdown play that broke the hearts of the Oklahoma Sooners, which helped his Broncos eventually to a 43-42 overtime victory in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. And he's perfectly fine with that.
"Pretty much every time I get interviewed – (the reporter) will try to lead up to it and it's always in there. But I don't mind it at all," Rabb said.
Retelling the play seemingly gives Rabb a new-found source of energy, even after Friday's double dose of training camp practice.
"Before the play we called a timeout. Coach Peterson said we were going to run "circus" which was the name of the play," Rabb vividly remembered. "We waited until there was about five seconds left on the play-clock and we got on the ball. If you watch it again, I'm on the top part of the screen. I was just chilling like I was running a quick screen, because I have to make sure my teammate catches it and I have the timing right. So I'm waiting and then he (Drisan James) catches it and then you see me shake the defensive back. I sprint across the field, he pitches it, I catch it and all I saw was green. I put my head down and started running."
Ironically, the same players he eluded on his way to the end zone are now his teammates on the 49ers roster including Oklahoma defensive backs Reggie Smith and Lewis Baker. In fact, Baker was playing as the backside safety during the "circus" play.
Though Rabb could remind his new teammates of the play that is permanently embedded in the minds of all college football fans, he chooses not to do so. At the moment, he is too busy focused on his dream of playing in the National Football League.
After a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys during training camp in 2007, Rabb was signed to the 49ers practice squad for the last few weeks of the season. The experience helped Rabb acclimate himself to the Bay Area, as well as the 49ers facility.
"It was fun. I got to know the team," Rabb said."I was able to experience the practice life during the season and became used to the city. My dad lives in Oakland, so I was able to visit him on the weekends."
Already comfortable in his surroundings, Rabb has been studying some of his new teammates with a critical eye, like 49ers newcomer, and 15-year NFL veteran Isaac Bruce.
"He brings consistency and knows what to do," Rabb said of the prolific wide receiver. "He's been in the (Martz) system so long and he knows the in's and out's. I try to pay attention to how he runs routes and see where he lines up. He reads the defense well too."
Also helping out Rabb a great deal is wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan.
"Coach Sullivan is teaching me a lot about my weight distribution, keeping my head up and all the things they don't teach you in college," he said.
Being that roster space is limited - Rabb understands the fastest way for him to impact the team is through special teams.
"It's fun. I think my personal favorite spot is the gunner, which is the wing on punt team," he said. "It's a long time to run especially with two guys in front of you."
When Rabb is not working on his craft, he enjoys spending time with his son and the rest of his family. But until he's able to see his loved ones, Rabb will spend as much time acclimating himself to the new system like all of his teammates with the hope of making it to one of the final 53 roster spots.
The best way for Rabb to make the roster?
In his own words, "By getting a better grasp of the offense, and getting a better understanding of what Coach Martz is trying to get established."