We’ve compiled lists of players from the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers who are graduates of California high schools. The Rams and Chargers still look like strong playoff contenders in their respective conferences. The state’s other two NFL teams — the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders — will not be in the playoffs. Still, these are NFL rosters so we’re going to start looking at those teams as it relates to California prep alums. We’ll begin with the 49ers, who lost several key players to injuries early in the season, but still seem motivated to pick up some wins at the end of the current season.
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The 49ers are going into their bye week after a difficult loss to the New York Giants in which they led most of the way behind new QB Nick Mullens, who debuted as an NFL starter the week before in a 34-3 win over the Raiders. According to this week’s NFL standings, the 49ers’ win total of two is one of the lowest the league. But there are many players on the roster who won six straight games to close the 2017 season.
The 49ers and their organization also are to be commended for honoring the Paradise High football team before the Monday night game vs. the Giants. Paradise players and cheerleaders were transported by bus free of charge to Levi’s Stadium and were given free tickets. The school wasn’t destroyed in the Camp Fire, but nearly all students lost their homes. The Paradise team had to concede a playoff game to Red Bluff after the impact of the fire became evident.
Here is the list of nine San Francisco 49ers playing in the same state in which they grew up:
DL Aric Armstead (Pleasant Grove, Elk Grove)
His last game at Pleasant Grove was in the 2011 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I final in which the Eagles defeated Monterey Trail of Elk Grove. Armstead was one of the nation’s top two-way lineman recruits and went on to be a defensive lineman at Oregon. He also is regarded as one of the best grid-hoopers from the Sacramento area in the last 15 years.
TE Ross Dwelley (Oak Ridge, El Dorado Hills)
We remember seeing Dwelley play and getting his picture after an SJS playoff win by the Trojans over Burbank of Sacramento. He played in college at the University of San Diego and has emerged as a possible NFL tight end. Ross recently caught his first NFL TD pass.
DL Cassius Marsh (Oaks Christian, Westlake Village)
He was part of one of the most famous teams in state history. That would be the 2009 Lions who were 13-0 and right there near the top of the overall state rankings until an overtime loss to Serra of Gardena in the CIF Southern Section Western Division final. That also was the team that had the sons of Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky and actor Will Smith. Marsh is reported with 23 sacks for that team. He later went to college at Washington.
WR/KR Dante Pettis (JSerra, San Juan Capistrano)
JSerra’s first NFL alum is Pettis, who set kick return records when he was playing in college at the University of Washington. Pettis, the son of former MLB outfielder Gary Pettis, is in his rookie season with the 49ers after being drafted in the second round last April.
DB D.J. Reed (Independence, Bakersfield)
He was a grid-hoop standout for the Falcons who had six interceptions and 1,150 total offense yards and 13 TDs in his senior season. Reed would eventually land at Kansas State where he continued to develop into an NFL secondary prospect.
DB Richard Sherman (Dominguez, Compton)
A player who could be on his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sherman started this season with 32 career interceptions. He signed a three-year free agent contract with the 49ers prior to this season after playing for the previous years of his career with the Seattle Seahawks. At Dominguez, Sherman was a great player on 2006 team that won the CIFSS Western Division title. He also was a CIF state meet champion in the triple jump. He is listed at the 2005-06 Division II State Athlete of the Year, winning a close call at the time over three-sport standout Colin Kaepernick from Pitman of Turlock.
LB Malcolm Smith (Taft, Woodland Hills)
A teammate of Richard Sherman’s at Seattle when the team won the Super Bowl in January of 2014, Smith was the MVP of that game. He had a 65-yard interception return TD and eight tackles. Smith is the brother of former NFL receiver Steve Smith, who set state receiving records at Taft.
LB Fred Warner (Mission Hills, San Marcos)
Another key rookie starter for the 49ers has been Warner, who played in college at BYU. The younger brother of Troy Warner (still at BYU) was an all-state level performer at Mission Hills and was on the Mission Hills team in 2013 that won the CIF San Diego Section title and lost to Bakersfield in SoCal Division 1 regional championship.
DB Ahkelo Witherspoon (Christian Brothers, Sacramento)
This player should be an inspiration to anyone who isn’t a big-time college recruit as a senior in high school. Witherspoon wasn’t a recruit because he only began playing football as a senior at CBS. He kept on playing at Sacramento City College, got noticed by colleges there where he earned a scholarship to Colorado.