49ers

49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

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Gatorade

49ers legend Steve Young presents Gatorade Player of the Year Award winner

Sophie Jones runs the soccer field, both literally and figuratively. 

She tallied 18 goals, 16 assists and 1.55 points per game for the Knights of Menlo School in Atherton, Calif. Those stats helped lift her team to a 20-win season, which turned into a Central Coast Section Division 1 tournament title.

With those achievements, Jones walked away with the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year honor Wednesday. 

A friend presented the senior with the trophy -- but not just any friend: 49ers Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.

"It's such an honor, and I can't believe they chose me," Jones said in Gatorade's promotional presentation video.

Jones also maintains solid numbers off the field, with a 3.65 GPA that helps her be recruited by some of the nation's top athletic programs. According to Gatorade, she plans to attend Duke later this year.

A "stellar human being with a fierce inner strength," as her teachers describe her, Jones also volunteers for a U-14 youth soccer team and the Boys and Girls Club, and has worked at the Special Olympics Buddy Program. That shows in her playing abilities on the field as well, with her coach saying he's never witnessed such a selfless player.

"Sophie worked tirelessly to elevate her game year after year, becoming high-impact talent," said Chad Konecky, Gatorade Player of the Year director. "She wins balls, finishes, defends, disrupts and creates in transition, and arguably reads the game as well as any U-20 player in the world."

Young complimented Jones, calling the achievement an exciting one -- and one that very few have ever done. 

Congrats, Sophie!

Ahkello Witherspoon expected back in starting lineup vs. Packers

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AP

Ahkello Witherspoon expected back in starting lineup vs. Packers

SANTA CLARA – Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon returned to action in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals following a seven-game absence due to foot and quadriceps injuries.

Witherspoon started the first three games of the season and will return to the starting lineup as early as Sunday night when the 49ers face the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium.

Emmanuel Moseley remained in the starting lineup against the Cardinals because the 49ers had a short week following the Monday night game against Seattle, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

“We weren’t going to throw Ahkello out there without covering a receiver at full speed (for the first time) in about seven weeks unless he could get three full days of practice in,” Shanahan said. “We walked through about 80-percent of our reps that week.

“Without getting the right amount of practice time in, it really wasn’t much of a decision.”

Witherspoon saw six snaps of action on Sunday when Moseley left the game briefly late in the third quarter due to cramps.

[RELATED: Kentavius Street, Jason Verrett only 49ers options to return from IR]

Moseley, an undrafted second-year player from Tennessee, has been targeted 32 times and surrendered 19 catches for 248 yards with one touchdown and one interception with four pass breakups, according to Pro Football Focus.

Witherspoon got off to a great start through three games, allowing just six receptions on 19 targets for 148 yards with one touchdown and one interception and three passes defensed.

Deebo Samuel's insane catch in 49ers' win had Nate Burleson going nuts

Deebo Samuel's insane catch in 49ers' win had Nate Burleson going nuts

If 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel's incredible circus catch against the Cardinals on Sunday caused you to go crazy, you're not the only one.

Former NFL wide receiver and current NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson highlighted the catch in this week's edition of "Toe Drag Swag," and to say that 11-year veteran was impressed with the rookie was an understatement.

"Now this one is nasty," Burleson said. "Deebo Samuel. Don't forget about him. He goes up and gets this. It bounces off of the back pad, bounces off the helmet of [Patrick] Peterson and then he tracks the ball. Deebo Samuel is snatching footballs like the real Deebo in 'Friday' was snatching chains.

"But how 'bout that concentration, though? You're trying to catch it over the back of one of the best corners in the business. It bounces off his back, it bounces off his head and then you still have the awareness to get your feet down before you go out of bounds."

In case you need a refresher, here are a few slo-mo replays.

Burleson went on to shower the 2019 second-round pick with praise.

"Deebo Samuel, for a young player who is transitioning from position to position, has stepped up and is one the best targets that Jimmy Garoppolo has on this offense," Burleson said. "Look at this play again. Keeping his eyes on the ball the whole time, in between two defenders, and still gets his feet down for one of the best catches in the business."

[RELATED: Samuel makes history vs. Cardinals]

After catching 22 passes for 227 yards over the first seven games he played in this season, Samuel has broken out with 16 receptions for 246 yards combined the last two weeks. Garoppolo targeted the rookie wide receiver a total of 21 times against the Seahawks and Cardinals.

Samuel is starting to make a believer out of everyone, including Burleson.

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