Netter Thrilled To Sign With 49ers

Former Northwestern captain Al Netter watched and waited, but was not selected in the NFL Draft. However, he was given an chance to sign with his hometown San Francisco 49ers. Netter is eager to take advantage of his opportunity.

On Saturday afternoon, Al Netter sat with his family at their Santa Rosa, Calif. home. His phone was placed immediately to his side, with its ringer on the loudest possible setting.

Netter had his eyes focused on the television, but couldn't help glancing toward his phone, waiting for it a call.

With each passing selection in the draft's final day, Netter's nerves began to build; his hopes were fading.

"I would just describe it as a really long day," Netter said. "The draft was really unpredictable, you really have no clue whether you're going to get drafted."

When the Indianapolis Colts made the final selection of the draft, Netter's phone had yet to ring. The feeling of disappointment set in, as he was not selected. However, that didn't last long.

Netter's phone began to ring; several unfamiliar area codes were calling. Numerous NFL teams enquired about his services. Finally, he received a phone call from a local number. Netter's longtime favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, offered the lineman a dream possibility.

On the other line was Justin Chabot, a scout with the 49ers, who -- like Netter -- was a captain of the Northwestern football team, back in 1996. One decorated Wildcat expressed faith in another. Netter was given the chance to sign with San Francisco.

Netter also spoke on the phone with 49ers' offensive line coach Tim Drevno, who coached with Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald at Idaho in 2000.

Shortly after, Netter made a phone call giving the news to one of his biggest fans, his 87-year-old grandmother, who happens to be a longtime 49ers season-ticket holder.

"When I called her and told her the news, she was crying and so excited for me," Netter said. "It's cool for her, she's 87 years old, still a huge football fan."

Netter spoke with his former head coach at Northwestern, who offered up some advice.

"Coach Fitzgerald is very excited for me and my family," said Netter. "He just gave me advice to work your butt off. Camp is going to be tough, you just have to prepare and be ready to go."

As an undrafted free-agent signing, Netter likely has an uphill battle to make the 49ers' 53-man roster, but he is eager to take advantage of his chance.

"I just wanted to go to a place where I had a good opportunity to make a roster and continue my career," Netter said. "It just happened to be my hometown team."

Chris Emma has covered college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports since 2009. He covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs.
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