Jackson awestruck by 49ers teammates he once used in Madden originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — A year ago, 49ers rookie Drake Jackson was preparing for another season of college football at the University of Southern California.
He was probably playing a lot of Madden, too.
Now, in his first training camp as an NFL defensive end, San Francisco’s top pick of the 2022 draft is working alongside athletes he once used in the popular video game.
“Ah man, I’m loving it. It’s so fun, I’m not going to lie,” Jackson said of camp after practice on Tuesday.
His favorite part?
“Probably how many All-Stars I’m playing with,” he said. “It’s just pretty tight to be able to look around and be playing with people I played in Madden and actually used, personally.”
And now when Jackson turns on his gaming console to play some virtual football, there’s a familiar face on the screen.
“It’s pretty crazy just to be able to actually play Madden with [the 49ers] and be in there.”
Jackson earned an overall rating of 69 in Madden NFL 23, and he’s lucky enough to play with three 49ers who are in the top 10 at their position in the game: Left tackle Trent Williams (99), linebacker Fred Warner (94) and fellow edge rusher Nick Bosa (87).
The 21-year-old has tried to take away everything he can from Bosa’s game during camp, he said, and is cultivating a relationship with the elder defensive lineman.
“During practice I go after him. I try to see what I can from him to try to mimic it a little bit,” Jackson said. “But that’s Nick Bosa, so you know, I can’t really be like him. I’ve got to do it on my own, so definitely trying to get things off of him and put them in my way.”
During camp on Tuesday, Jackson had a pair of would-be sacks going up against the second- and third-team offense. He said he has been dealing with stomach problems over the last week, but it hasn’t stopped him from giving his all at camp.
And while it’s clear he’s learned plenty from playing alongside Bosa, the rookie is also benefiting from the little time he has lined up opposite Williams so far in camp. In the one drive he faced off against Williams, Jackson made sure he was “100 percent.”
“If you don’t know where you’re supposed to be on him, he will flatten you,” Jackson said. “So it’s kind of like, you better be on your stuff when you’re coming against him. And also, it’s only going to make me better because I’m going against the best tackle in the league. I don’t think there’s anyone like him.”
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It’s rare that a rookie has the opportunity to step into a defense as talented as the 49ers’, but it’s clear Jackson is making the most of his surroundings.
And as he tries to best Williams in practice and learn everything he can from Bosa, maybe the three can bond even further over a game of Madden.
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