49ers rookies arrive: RB Guerendo ready to make quick first impression in NFL

Running back Isaac Guerendo brings speed and fresh feet to the 49ers’ rookie minicamp this weekend

SANTA CLARA — Isaac Guerendo stood still in his red size-12 sneakers Thursday as reporters interviewed him for the first time at Levi’s Stadium, his new home. From here on out, those feet could be among the fastest to put on a 49ers uniform and race through defenses.

Six years ago, Guerendo crossed the finish line first in the 100-yard dash to win an Indiana state championship for Avon High School, where his football coaches used him as a wide receiver rather than an NFL-bound running back.

“I always wanted to play in the NFL, but there came a point when I was younger where I wasn’t highly recruited, so I thought maybe track is the way to go,” Guerendo said upon arriving for the 49ers rookie minicamp.

“Fortunately, I was given a few opportunities, then I just took those, and it went from there.”

A few, indeed.

Guerendo enters the NFL with limited wear and tear on his 6-foot, 221-pound body. He did not start a game in college until last season’s bowl game for Louisville, where he transferred ahead of last season after five years and just 99 carries at Wisconsin. He ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns in his lone start, a Holiday Bowl loss to USC.

“Just continuing to be patient and to wait for my time, that’s one thing I’ve always done and one thing I’ll continue to do,” Guerendo said. “… Obviously it’s frustrating and you want to contribute and play as much as possible. But if I let it bother me, it wouldn’t allow me to be ready for those moments when they were given.”

Once Guerendo arrived at Wisconsin in 2018, he redshirted his first year, and then coaches converted him from wide receiver to running back, a switch that worked out so well that he became a fourth-round draft pick. His 231 collegiate carries (1,392 yards, 17 touchdowns) were fewer than Jonathan Taylor had in any one of his seasons at Wisconsin (2017-19) before he became an All-Pro for the Indianapolis Colts.

“(Wisconsin coaches) gave me Jonathan Taylor comparisons and you can’t complain about that,” Guerendo said of Taylor, a former Badger who became a 2021 All-Pro with the Indianapolis Colts. “They didn’t throw the ball a lot when I was there, and he just saw more opportunity if I were to switch to running back.”

Aside from being behind Taylor, Guerendo bided his time behind Braelon Allen at Wisconsin and Jawhar Jordan at Louisville. Drafted 129th overall, Guerendo was picked before both last month, as Allen went five spots later to the New York Jets, and Jordan was drafted in the sixth round by Houston.

Hamstring injuries limited him his first three years at Wisconsin. Then came a 2021 game against Eastern Michigan, and Guerendo was clocked at 22.15 mph as he raced 82 yards for his first career touchdown. Three months ago, Guerendo led all running backs at the NFL scouting combine with a time of 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He turns 24 on June 28.

He is in no race to steal Christian McCaffrey’s job, however. Guerendo is hungry to learn from the NFL’s reigning rushing champion, stating: “I was doubted a lot growing up playing football. To get to this point and to prove to the 5-year-old version of myself that I’m actually here, it’s exciting, but now it’s about maintaining that.”


Malik Mustapha, a fourth-round safety from Wake Forest, found an instant connection with general manager John Lynch. It could take a little bit longer, however, for Mustapha to study film from Lynch’s playing days as a Pro Football Hall of Fame safety.

“I’m going to have to dig deep for that film. I definitely heard good things about him,” Mustapha said. “I’m hip with the John Lynches and Ronnie Lotts of the world. When I connected with him at the combine, we hit it off, simply because safety to safety, we had that kind of relationship.

“I definitely have to pull up some VHS tapes of him. It’s awesome to be part of an organization where the general manager has been a part of the game, and understands his players and the game, and somebody who can relate to us.”


Cornerback Renardo Green, the 49ers’ second-round selection out of Florida State, is bracing for a culture change.

“There ain’t no houses in hills in Florida, and it’s hotter than this, and way more humid than this, that’s one thing I do know,” Green said.

Of the 49ers’ eight draft picks, Green is the only one who did not transfer schools. He admitted he was tempted, but called Florida State a “dream school” for him.

“I believe in staying loyal to what I committed to and then when things get hard I just don’t up and leave and run away from a challenge,” he said. “I knew I could better myself, I knew I had coaches standing behind me and I knew we were all working towards a goal so I kept putting one foot in front of the other and worked for everything I wanted.”


Offensive lineman Jarrett Kingston, a sixth-round draft pick, made good time driving the 3 ½ hours from his Northern California hometown of Anderson.

“Everything around here is awesome. I got down here early so I drove around and checked it out, and told my wife what it’s like so she’s not surprised,” Kingston said. “I’m just grateful and excited to get to work.”

Viewed by the 49ers as an interior lineman, Kingston(6-4, 308) said he has already been studying the 49ers’ playbook to pick up calls as quickly as possible. Kingston’s speed and agility are reflected well with his short-shuttle time at the combine, his physicality in college at Washington State (five years) and USC (last year) also impressed offensive line coach Chris Foerster.

“He’s just a legend, one of the best offensive line coaches in the league,” Kingston said. “I’m excited to learn from him, get under his wing and see how great I can be.”

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