NBC Sports

49ers' Coleman explains tough decision to play this season

NBC Sports
USA Today

SANTA CLARA -- It was not an easy decision for 49ers running back Tevin Coleman to continue his football career this season.

Coleman has sickle cell trait. His young daughter, Nazaneen, has sickle-cell anemia.

With the concerns and uncertainty surrounding short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19, nobody would have questioned Coleman if he decided it was not in his or his family’s best interest to play football this season.

“It was very difficult to make that decision,” Coleman said on Friday. “But with the support of my family and my wife, my kids, they convinced me to actually come down here and focus on work and playing football.”

While Coleman remains in the Bay Area and plays this season, his wife will look after the children back in the family’s year-round home in Atlanta.

“It makes me feel more comfortable with being here and playing football,” Coleman said. “It was definitely a tough decision with me and my family.”

Coleman spoke about his daughter’s condition in January in an interview with Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. Exposure to cold or a cut can trigger a sickle-cell crisis for his daughter. That is why even people within the organization were not certain whether Coleman would opt out this season.

Coleman himself weighed only 3 ½ pounds when he was born 10 weeks premature. His parents were told he had only a 20-percent chance of survival.

“She’s strong; she’s real strong,” Coleman told Branch. “Just like me. God definitely picked her to handle this.”


Coleman missed one practice last week as a precaution due to air quality, but he has solidified his spot as one of the team’s top running backs.

RELATED: Jimmy G not worried about offensive struggles in practice

He spent most of the offseason rehabbing from surgery on his right shoulder after experiencing a dislocated shoulder in the NFC Championship Game. Coleman had a difficult offseason but he appears to be 100-percent healthy during training camp.

Coleman’s surgery remained out of the socket for approximately 25 minutes before it was forced back into place. He returned two weeks later to play in the Super Bowl, but required surgery shortly after suiting up one more time.