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49ers' Dee Ford pays it forward, purchases guitar for young musician

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49ers' Dee Ford pays it forward, purchases guitar for young musician

"Pay it forward."

That's what 49ers defensive end Dee Ford told Adam Birmingham and his best friend, Aidan, at a Guitar Center this week in Bradenton, Fla.

Ford and the 49ers are staying in Bradenton as they prepare for a Week 14 showdown in New Orleans against the Saints, and Ford got in the holiday spirit during some down time.

Adam, 17, is a young, talented musician who spends his time at the center hanging out with Aidan. The two share a lot with one another, including being bandmates.

Adam was practicing on a guitar he'd been dreaming about owning for the past year when he noticed Ford, not knowing he was an NFL star and 2018 Pro Bowler.

Ford walked toward the Fender area and sat down and started playing on a guitar.

"He turned to me and asked me how long I've been playing," Birmingham told NBC Sports Bay Area. 

Birmingham then put that special guitar away, but noticed Ford walking up to the counter as he was getting ready to check out. Ford then turned to Birmingham and said he would buy anything in the store for the young musician, as crazy as it sounded.

Naturally, the teen assumed Ford was pulling his leg.

"I didn't believe him for a second," Birmingham added.

Ford then told Birmingham to pick something off the wall -- anything he wanted -- and the 49ers star would take care of it. 

Adam went and grabbed the guitar he'd become fond over and Aidan, who works at Guitar Center, scanned it in to purchase. 

"Sure enough, he bought (Adam's) guitar. Dee bought a guitar for himself -- and an amp and some cables, stuff like that," Aidan added.

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My nephew @adam.j.birm7 is a young — and talented — musician. Today, he was practicing on the guitar at Guitar Center in Bradenton when @49ers defensive end @iamdeeford came in and saw him playing. After a little conversation about Adam’s musical dreams and whatever, Ford told him to pick any guitar he wanted and he’d buy it for him. After a year of dreaming of owning that guitar; now Adam does. Thank you @iamdeeford for that incredible gesture and supporting a young kid’s dream. You’ve made a whole family of fans and I hope others hear of your kindness. (And I grew up hating the Niners, as a Bengals fan your team ruined my early dreams of ever seeing my favorite team winning a Super Bowl.)

A post shared by Jeremy Birmingham (@_birm_) on

The guys didn't know it was the 49ers' defensive end, but Ford asked Aidan to put his number in the system and "it would all make sense."

Aidan, then realizing who it was, admitted he had the 28-year-old on his fantasy team for the past couple of the seasons -- something that surprised Ford, a defensive player.

Ford took some photos with the two, then even offered to purchase a guitar for Aidan -- but he said no. Aidan wanted the focus to be about his best friend Adam, who had just moved and couldn't afford to have much of a Christmas.

[RELATED: Kittle says Fred Warner is one of his favorite players]

"I thanked him 100 times -- I didn't know what to say," Birmingham added. 

If the 100 "thank yous" aren't enough, that's perfectly OK with them. They have an open invitation for Ford to attend any concert or show their band might be a part of. And they promise to give him the VIP treatment.

DeAndre Hopkins, 49ers' new rival, says he's NFL's best wide receiver

DeAndre Hopkins, 49ers' new rival, says he's NFL's best wide receiver

One of the 49ers' newest rivals is coming to the NFC West with lots of confidence.

DeAndre Hopkins hasn't even suited up for the Arizona Cardinals yet, but he told ESPN's "Jalen & Jacoby Show" that he "definitely" is the best wide receiver in the NFL. 

"I know I'm the best," Hopkins said Thursday. "Mike's my boy. I love [New Orleans Saints wide receiver] Michael [Thomas] ... but he knows if I had Drew Brees my whole career what these numbers would be. [Falcons wide receiver] Julio Jones knows if I had Matt Ryan my whole career. That's my boy. I trained with Julio, too. He knows what these numbers would be."

Hopkins caught passes from Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson over the last two-and-half seasons before Hopkins was traded to the Cardinals this offseason, and Watson is no slouch as a quarterback. The 27-year-old receiver made First Team All-Pro in each of the last three seasons since Watson was drafted, catching 257 passes for 3,288 yards and 24 touchdowns in the QB's 37 career starts.

But Hopkins was great despite playing with numerous forgettable quarterbacks in four years before Watson arrived in Houston, making the Pro Bowl in 2015 after finishing third in receiving yards (1,521) and tied for seventh in TDs (11) while Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden each started at least one game.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Hopkins won't have to worry about that in 2020, barring injury, as he's set to team up with up-and-coming star Kyler Murray in Kliff Kingsbury's high-octane offense. That combination has the potential to be a thorn in the 49ers' side for years to come.

If you agree with where Hopkins stands among the game's best wide receivers, he'll pose a threat to the 49ers this season. Thomas and Jones each carved up the 49ers' dominat defense last season, with both catching 11 or more passes for 134 yards and at least one touchdown. Of the receivers who accrued at least 100 receiving yards in a game against the 49ers, Thomas (13) and Jones (11) had the most receptions.

[RELATED: How Washington jumping gun on Williams benefited 49ers] 

Hopkins will have two chances to replicate his peers' production, and he'll be aided by arguably a better supporting cast of receivers. Larry Fitzgerald caught 75 passes for 804 yards as a 36-year-old last season, while Christian Kirk had 709 receiving yards himself. Fitzgerald has gained more receiving yards (2,381) and scored more touchdowns (19) against the 49ers than any other team in his career, while Kirk has scored two of his six career TDs (in two seasons) against San Francisco.

The All-Pro receiver's swagger alone won't knock the 49ers off their divisional perch, but Hopkins' arrival should keep them -- and their secondary -- up at night preparing for (at least) two games against the Cardinals this season. 

How 49ers' Trent Williams trade benefited from Washington jumping gun

How 49ers' Trent Williams trade benefited from Washington jumping gun

If Trent Williams is fully healthy and plays up to his ability, the 49ers got an absolute steal in only giving up a 2020 fifth-round pick and 2021 third-round selection in last month's trade with Washington. Had he played last season, it's highly unlikely San Francisco would have been able to acquire him for such a low cost.

And, thanks to Washington jumping the gun, he didn't.

Williams joined NFL Media's Ian Rapoport on the "RapSheet and Friends" podcast set to debut Friday and revealed that he was, in fact, prepared to suit up for Washington once he reported to the team after the trade deadline last season. But before his new helmet could arrive, Washington placed him on the reserve/non-football injury list, officially ending his season.

"The competitive juices started to flow, so I was really prepared to make my return last year," Williams told Rapoport. "I know all of the things that had went on and just being in that facility, being around teammates, being around the guys you fought with and bled with for some many years. It was almost impossible for me to fight the urge not to just want to get back on the field. I was literally waiting on my new helmet to come in. I was getting ready to kind of gear up and it was going to be somewhat of a surprise to some, but I think for the people who know me best, they know how competitive I am.

"... I was under the impression my new helmet was coming in that Tuesday, and then I was put on the NFI ... right before I could even get the helmet to get back out there. It was a bummer but figured it was just how it was supposed to work out."

[RELATED: 49ers help Williams by restructuring final year of contract]

It should be noted, Washington saved $6 million by placing Williams on the NFI. Of course, that likely was the final nail in the coffin for their relationship. 

Williams doesn't sound too upset about it. You can be sure the 49ers -- who now have arguably the NFL's best offensive tackle -- aren't either.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]