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


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.

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"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.

Jed York compares 49ers' journey through muck to 'Shawshank Redemption'


Jed York compares 49ers' journey through muck to 'Shawshank Redemption'

SANTA CLARA -- 49ers CEO Jed York was in a good mood Friday afternoon. He was sarcastic, funny and a bit self-deprecating during a 20-minute surprise interview session with reporters on hand for the final 49ers access period before the team leaves to play Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

It’s easy to find a smile with the 49ers doing so well. They dominated the regular season, rolled through the NFC playoffs and are now set to play the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 2 for the NFL title.

Just because the sun is now shining, it doesn't mean York has forgotten recent days with rainclouds overhead.

“I try to think every day about banners flying over the stadium asking for me to step down from the team,” York said with tongue firmly planted in cheek. “That’s always my favorite experience. No, I’m just focused on what we have to do. ... I am happy for our fans. Being in the Super Bowl seven years ago doesn't feel that long, except for the deep valley we went into in between.”

The 49ers now have a chance to do something great. They can add a sixth Lombardi Trophy to their collection with one more win this season.

They can do so right after emerging from a dark era that included two disappointing seasons to start the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch regime. York expected that when he gave his head coach and general manager six-year contracts. Looking back, York is glad he decided to offer such long-term deals. He wanted stability after several seasons of turmoil.

“I think I’m still paying, like, three coaches,” York said with a smile. “I thought, 'If we’re going to pay them, we might as well pay the same one for six years. Seems like a good idea to me.' It was clear that [Shanahan and I] had the vision and sync. I know that it was a six-year deal but, to me, it was two years of fixing what we needed to fix and then this was Year One of a four-year deal. It was important knowing that Kyle is someone that I can work with and John is someone I can work with to get through the tough stuff.”

The tough stuff. 49ers fans know all about that after suffering through some terrible seasons after the Jim Harbaugh era ended. York evoked “Shawshank Redemption” when describing the journey through bad times to reach this good one. The description was both apt and dead-on accurate.

“I made an Andy Dufresne reference earlier. Everybody wants to get to the beach at the end [of "Shawshank Redemption"], but no one wants to go through what he went through to get to the beach,” York said. “We had to get through that. Kyle and John were guys I knew could help us get through that. I wanted to send a message to our fans and our team that these guys are here. Not that we knew we weren’t going to win games, but it was unlikely that we were going to win from Day One and win the Super Bowl right away.

“I didn’t want people to wonder in Year Three if they were on the hot seat. No. It’s a six-year deal. We’ve walked into this thing together and we’re going to build this thing the right way. We didn’t make every right trade or draft pick. We didn’t sign the right free agents all the time, but it’s the culmination of everything we do. We want to build the right team. You have to have a long-term vision and, when you can make those long-term decisions the right way without worrying and trying to shortcut it, then you give yourself a chance.”

[RELATED: York hopes 49ers in position to receive White House invite]

York kept working through mistakes in both personnel and executive/coaching decisions, but didn’t lose sight of his goals trying to dig the 49ers out of a hole. He used more movies to describe how he was mentally able to get through it without shaken confidence.

“My philosophies are pretty simple. "The Godfather," "Bull Durham" and "Major League" make up my philosophy on life. And maybe Shawshank a little bit. But it goes back to Crash Davis talking to Nuke LaLoosh. You’re going to get lit up when you’re in the pros. You have to remain cocky. You have to remain confident. You can’t let them get you down. It’s hard to not let outside noise affect you, but you have to block it out. I think our team has done a great job blocking out the noise and I hope I’ve done the small [things] to help them focus on the task at hand.”

Richard Sherman believes chemistry will help 49ers in Super Bowl LIV

Richard Sherman believes chemistry will help 49ers in Super Bowl LIV

SANTA CLARA — All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman has taken part in 14 playoff games and two Super Bowls, but he believes that those experiences are overrated as an asset, whereas team chemistry is not. 

Many 49ers players have been influenced by Sherman’s leadership and character. Watching him interact in the locker room is akin to mayor working the room but without the negative connotations. He talks to everyone, offense, defense and special teams alike. 

While Sherman’s play on the field speaks for itself, coach Kyle Shanahan believes that what he represents in the locker that might be just as important. 

“I think he's meant a ton,” Shanahan said. “You can probably ask each guy and probably get a different answer. He's helped us the most by how he's played, but also having a guy that's been there and done that, especially having a young team.

“When you have a guy who guys have grown up watching a little bit, and being in big games like this and even starting out the year 8-0, going through that, and having guys who have kind of been at the top of the league halfway through, echo how tough it's going to be to keep that going. 

“Any time you have guys with experience who have been through it who are also one of your better players, it helps a ton.”

Someone who appreciates Sherman’s open door attitude is fellow All-Pro George Kittle.  

“Sherm's the best. He's such a leader," Kittle said. "He talks to every single person in the locker room. He's not one of those guys that sits in his locker space and just talks to guys around him. He's always around. 

“He wants to talk to everybody and he doesn't really force knowledge on you. He's definitely an open book. If you have questions for him, he'll sit and talk football with you all day. That's one thing that's incredible about him.” 

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The elements that Sherman believes are evident in most championship teams are what he sees in the 49ers' locker room. While it’s likely unintentional, his influence on the team's chemistry is part of what makes it so special. 

“Great players, great execution, great coaching and poise,” Sherman said. “There’s a sense of brotherhood for sure in the building. There's a trust in one another. There's a bit of adversity, you know, overcoming adversity throughout the season, and we've had all those ingredients. Then it's just guys that play hard for one another. They won't take no for an answer.”