Easop Winston Jr. lives five minutes from Candlestick Park in South San Francisco and grew up a 49ers fan. This weekend, he could become a 49ers wide receiver.
In an exclusive interview with Sports Illustrated, Washington State’s Winston said the 49ers have shown interest in him. “I’ve been in contact with the 49ers,” Winston said. “I talked to (49ers wide receivers coach) Wes Welker. It has been mostly West Coast teams that have inquired about me.”
Winston is a prolific Pac 12 wide receiver who ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at his Virtual Pro Day. The 49ers could select him on Day 3 of the upcoming draft, so get to know him.
Winston received zero scholarship offers out of Serra high school in San Mateo, because he was a cornerback until his senior season. So he enrolled at City College of San Francisco, where he played wide receiver and scored 24 touchdowns in two seasons.
Still, most major colleges didn’t seem to notice him.
Washington State noticed -- they have a recruiting pipeline to C.C.S.F. So Winston transferred to Washington State in 2017, but had to redshirt a season -- his coaches didn’t think he was ready to play. When they finally let him on the field, he did what he did at C.C.S.F. He produced. Scored 19 touchdowns in two seasons.
Still, lots of people didn’t notice him.
Winston did not receive an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine. “I wasn’t surprised,” Winston told SI. “I’ve been overlooked my whole life. I was preparing myself for the worst.”
So he ran the 40-yard dash on his own, and filmed it. And he ran a 4.42, a terrific time. Two days later, NFL teams started calling him, and the 49ers were one of them. Funny what a fast time can do for a wide receiver.
“They like me,” Winston said of the 49ers. “They could see me fitting the offense. And a lot of what they’ve been saying is they like my film. With Covid 19 going on, you can’t talk to any of these coaches in person and do private workouts, so they have to rely on film, and that’s what they say stands out most about me: The way I play the game with a chip on my shoulder.”
Winston isn’t a big receiver -- he’s 5’11”. But he has huge, 10-inch hands, and makes extremely difficult catches seem routine. He’s a quarterback’s best friend. Jimmy Garoppolo could use a best friend.
“ I know what it’s like to be a bottom-of-the-list guy,” Winston said. “So when I get my opportunity, I’m going to make the most of it, because that’s what I’ve been doing all the way up to this point in my life.”
To watch the entire interview, click here.