Four players from the Santa Clara High School football team got a chance of a lifetime on Sept. 17 when they were invited to the 49ers facility in Santa Clara. The players were among about 40 high school football players asked to take part in the 49ers Mentorship Academy.
The players spent an hour learning leadership skills, how to handle things like social media, and about the importance of having positive role models and being positive role models. Then they sat down for dinner and received a surprise visit from the 49ers’ rookie class.
“Nick Bosa’s number two in the draft pick,” said a grinning Nick Martinez, Santa Clara High School Class of 2020.
Martinez sat at a table with Bosa and 49ers Cornerback Tim Harris and got a chance to talk to the two 49ers players about football and life. Martinez says while meeting the 49ers rookies was the highlight, he also enjoyed the chance to meet other high school football players.
“I think it was a great experience,” said Martinez. “Getting to meet with captains from other schools, someone that you may not know about and mixing and interacting with other players that play the same position as you or possibly go up against you. It’s a really great experience.”
“It was a fun experience,” said Alan Tran, Santa Clara High School Class of 2020. “Something new for me because I [have never interacted] with 49ers players or [other team’s] players in general. It’s an awesome experience. I just learned about leadership skills I can bring on the field and off the field and in school to motivate people to better things.”
For the 49ers rookies, the experience was just as rewarding.
“It’s huge to be able to be here with these high school captains and be able to talk and learn about them and then just teach them life and football,” said 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw. “It’s about decision making, social media, how to be polite. How to say ‘Yes, ma’am’ ‘No ma’am’ because things like that get you far.”
Greenlaw says he has always thought of his father as his mentor, so it’s a surreal experience being on the other side of things.
“It’s different. You got younger kids that look up to you and they watch your every move so you got to make sure you set a good example for those kids, not just on the field, off the field too,” said Greenlaw. “Just setting a good example for them because they’re our future college, NFL players; it’s important.”
It was Santa Clara High School Varsity Football Coach Burt Codera’s first visit time at the event, but he’s happy with the experience.
“It’s a great experience for the guys to get a little leadership mentorship from an NFL organization,” said Codera. “Hopefully, they can take some of this leadership and reinforce it with the team. They’re already our team leaders and captains, but hopefully they can get a skill or two that they can use to guide the team.”