Player Feature: Elijah Mitchell
Mitchell led his team to a win in the final game of the 2020 season, and dedicated the feat to the late Coach Looney, their offensive line coach who died of a heart attack during an August team workout shortly before the start of preseason camp. On what would have been coach Looney's 32nd birthday, Mitchell and the offense ran the ball for 265 rushing yards to cement the victory. "It was very important (to end the season with a win), man," said Mitchell. "We've been through so much with coach Looney, with just everything going on," Mitchell said, "and we just put it in our minds that we just wanted this year to be great, no matter what the circumstances."
The running back appeared in 42 games (25 starts) in 4 years (2017-20) at Louisiana and recorded 527 carries for 3,267 yards and 41 touchdowns to go along with 49 receptions for 597 yards and 5 touchdowns. As a senior in 2020, Mitchell appeared in 10 games (9 starts) and recorded 141 carries for 878 yards and 8 touchdowns and 1 reception for 153 yards and earned First-Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors.
Mitchell prides himself on being known as a tough, hardworking running back and earned that reputation amongst his teammates and coaches at Louisiana. "Those moments make you feel pretty good," he said. "It means that the coaches trust you with the ball when it is crunch time. It makes you feel like you are a playmaker and someone the team can count on when things get tough."
Read more about Elijah Mitchell by clicking his bio below.
This month's "Coach's Corner" comes from 49ers Special Teams Coordinator, Richard Hightower.
You guys have to trim your roster to 53. Can you walk us through what that process is like from your point of view, how you kind of contribute to figuring out who those last few players are?
"Yeah, of course. What I do is basically look at the tape and we all look at the tape together, evaluate the tape, and then we rank the guys. So, I'll rank them at each position. And I'll give that information to [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and [general manager] John [Lynch] and they'll go through the roster. Obviously, they meet with every different position group on that, as well as special teams on that. So, from my vantage point, I just answer the questions that they ask. If they got questions on any guys, I try to give them the best answer I can and try to help in any way I can and give an honest evaluation of the players. And really, it's great because whatever they put on tape is really all you have to say. So, guys have done that and guys are continuing to do that and they'll get a chance to do that this game as well. So, this is big game for some guys."
When it comes to cut down day, has there been a time where you've gotten on the table for a guy, really fought for him to be on the roster?
"Yeah, that happens at all positions, just not my position. It happens at O-Line. It happens at defensive back. It happens throughout, but I will get on table for any guys that lay it on the line for their teammates. So, if guys fight for their team and guys fight for one another and guys can help us win, I don't have any problem getting on the table for anybody. I'll stand two feet on it. I'm not very tall, but I'll stand two feet on the table for anybody. And I think all the coaches will. And then as well, I'll give an honest opinion if a guy can't help us, I'll give an honest opinion on that as well because all of us we want to win. The bottom line is winning. So, if a guy can help us, definitely we'll get on the table for him."
What have you seen from your rookies this year and how has their development been in the last couple of weeks*?*
"That's a great question. I've seen it from, especially, in particular [CB] Ambry Thomas and [DB Deommodore Lenoir] D-Mo. Those guys have grown from game one to game two at a rapid pace. The guys are picking up everything as they go. And it's just like anything. It's just like reporting. I bet the first time you guys did it, you got better the second time you did it, and the third time you did it. It's just repetition at everything. So, I've seen those guys grow. And a lot of those guys, what's interesting is a lot of guys don't play special teams. Some do, but a lot of guys don't play special teams coming out of college because they're all the superstars. So, you really have to teach them and mold them and train them and rekindle the fire for them to play special teams. Some places are different. Alabama they play a lot of special teams. LSU, those guys play special teams at times. But not every place, their stars don't play special teams. So, you really have to teach them the fundamentals and you really have to make sure you grow them."
To learn more about Coach Hightower, click the bio below.
WON of Us: Corina
For Corina, like many Faithful, the 49ers have impacted so many days in her life, but unlike many, those days included her wedding day.
I can recall truly starting to become a 49ers fan when I was a teenager in high school. We had several family members from San Jose and anytime we would visit, my Uncle George was always wearing his 49ers gear! If for any occasion he couldn't be wearing any red and gold, he was always talking about the team. The joy that it brought him left a lasting impression on me and my brother as well. We actually have a strong contingent of Green Bay Packers fans in the family but luckily my Uncle George was around to make sure that made the right choice in picking a favorite team.
Then when I met my husband, the fandom grew even further. But just from his contagious fandom, it was actually my now mother-in-law. She is the biggest 49ers fan that I know. It's fantastic to be able to come together around the game of football. And even more, fun when we have family rivalries… especially thinking back to the 2020 NFC Championship game.
What do you love about WON?
My friend Cristina was the one who actually told me all about it and I love this group. It is such a passionate group of women who love their 49ers football! When it comes to women talking football, I usually just have Cristina and mother-in-law to chat with but since joining WON, I've been able to talk to so many more ladies about our 49ers.
I really enjoy the events! We love a bit further so coming to in-person events isn't always doable but during 2020, to have a few virtual event options were so fun! I also, really enjoy receiving this digital magazine each month. Not only is it great information for the group, but I've found that I'm more informed about the team than my husband these days.
Was there one inspirational moment in team history that confirmed your 49ers fandom?
I have a couple of moments that I go to when I think 49ers. First, I go back to being a teen during the 1994 season. That was the first Super Bowl that my brother truly understood and appreciated what he was watching! The joy that was on his face when they brought the Lombardi trophy back to San Francisco was incredible. It was the moment that I knew that if this team could bring this much happiness to my family, then I would be a fan for life.
The other special moment that I have was the day that the 2012 49ers played the Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs because earlier that day my husband and I tied the knot. It was a smaller wedding of mostly family. We had our ceremony in the afternoon attended by both the 49ers and Packers fans in our family. After the wedding we all changed, put our gear on and watched together. It's probably the only time our family rooting for the team in green would be ok with the 49ers winning. The big win capped off a perfect day.
Get to know WON member Corina.
What 49ers tradition or superstition do you/your family have?
On Sunday mornings before anything else, we always go to church, it's our way of setting the tone for the week and making sure we have the right mindset as we prepare to watch the 49ers play later in the day. Once we get home, we change into head-to-toe 49ers gear, and sort of our tradition is that we choose one seat for the whole game. Once we pick our spot, we find it to be bad luck to change locations in front of the TV.
What impact has the 49ers had on your life?
Ever since I started watching, the game of football has brought us all together. Even beyond my family, I have a group of faculty at the school where I teach that are all 49ers fans. We get together and recap games, share thoughts, and have something to bond over. The kids in all of our families are all growing up as fans and allows for another way that we'll be able to stay connected as they grow up.
For the third year, the team hosted local community partners in the Community Corner at 49ers Training Camp presented by SAP. At each open practice, the team welcomed guests representing a variety of causes bringing awareness and sharing our appreciation for Educators, Military members, and their families, Diversity & Inclusion groups, Mental Health organizations, Youth Football athletes, Social Justice organizations, Mental Health services, and more. The Community Corner provided a close-up view of the team practicing at Training Camp as the team prepared for the 2021 season. Sourdough Sam greeted guests and players expressed gratitude from a distance, after practice.
During open practices at the SAP Performance Facility, the 49ers welcomed special guests from causes and community partners.
Tenured Women of the 49ers Front Office: Angela Banister
For the 49ers, football is business, so its front office functions as any other corporation would. Many individuals work off the field to ensure that both the team and Levi's® Stadium run like well-oiled machines. Among these front-office employees are several women whose careers with the team span decades. Over the next few months, 49ers.com will share their stories, which explore memorable moments in 49ers history from the perspectives of the women who have seen it all.
Angela Banister began working a temporary position with the 49ers in August 1987 as part of the college scouting department where she gained first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of a professional football franchise. Thirty-four years later, she is a well-recognized office veteran.
In the early years, "I was typing scouting reports into the computer while being schooled about football and scouting by the College Scouting Assistant, Suzette Cox," Angela said.
She proved to be a good worker and quick learner. Angela was brought on full-time in February 1988, after a mere six months on the job. She was hired as Assistant to Director of Pro Scouting Allan Webb, who, at the time acted as a one-man show.
This Month in 49ers History
September 2, 1984
The 49ers opened the 1984 campaign with a 30-27 win over the Detroit Lions at the Pontiac Silverdome, the site of the 49ers first Super Bowl championship in 1981. Quarterback Joe Montana got the 49ers rolling with a five-yard scoring dart to Carl Monroe. Montana finished the day completing 16 of 25 passes for 188 yards. Running back Wendell Tyler, who was on his way to a Pro Bowl season, added two touchdowns and 87 yards rushing. Freddie Solomon led all receivers with four catches for 61 yards. Ray Wersching added three field goals including a career-long 53 yarder.