Former Jacks’ star pro career on hiatus

Former running back Ja’Quan Gardner (#32) breaks right after receiving the ball from former quarterback Robert Webber in the Fall 2017 away game vs. Western Oregon. Photo by Skye Kimya

Alumnus’ future in NFL uncertain after being released from 49ers finalized roster

The San Francisco 49ers announced their signing of Humboldt State University’s star running back Ja’Quan Gardner to a three year deal on August 28. However, Gardner did not make the final 53 man roster.

Gardner was invited to the 49ers rookie minicamp in May earlier this year but did not receive another invitation to offseason training.

Gardner suited in No. 38 on August 30 in the 49ers last preseason game vs the Los Angeles Chargers.

“I’m probably going to be on some special teams then get some carries 4th quarter,” Gardner said. “It’s going to be straight, I’m going to be more scared running out of the tunnel onto the field.”

Which he was, but that was the only chance he got to see the field.

“He did a good job in our rookie tryout camp,” Kyle Shanahan Head Coach of 49ers said in the San Francisco Bee, “he was a guy who picked the stuff up in the weekend he was here. We liked him as a person. We always liked his college tape, and he ran well while he was here. We’re down some guys and we wanted to make sure we got another guy in here and he was a guy that we had on our shortlist since he was here in the tryout camp.”

Gardner was the 2015 Harlon Hill runner up for college football. He finished his Lumberjacks career with 5,495 rushing yards and 72 touchdowns in just 42 career games. He holds all the statistical rushing records at HSU.

Gardner’s girlfriend Emma Gutierrez was one of the first to hear the news.

“I was crying. I was very proud of him,” said Gutierrez. “It was a lot of different emotions at once.”

Gutierrez still attends HSU while Gardner is back at home training but the two still seem to work it out when asked about it.

“It’s hard but it is not as hard as I thought it would be,” said Gutierrez. “Distance is the hardest but we have really good communication.”

In his first practice Gardner did not get to participate in many team drills. He participated in a couple of individual drills with the running backs and observed for most of practice.

Gardner was really close with his teammates and got along with everybody and was as humble as they come. You wouldn’t even know he had all these accomplishments, someone would have to tell you. Former teammate Jamere Austin played on the team last season he was just as excited for Gardner as anybody else.

“I was really proud of him, I thought about a lot of the talks me and my boy had and dreams came true, couldn’t be nothing but happy,” said Austin.

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