SPECIAL NOTE: Big Thanks to Josh Morgan for not only being a great community individual, but for also taking the time to address some questions (big thanks to Fooch for that!) regarding both his time on the field for the 49ers, and off the field for the community. Be sure to check out his quotes and the Q & A after the jump! (Fooch's Note: Thanks to Lisa Goodwin of the 49ers (Senior Manager of Publicity) for getting the questions answered by Josh)
Every 49ers fan knows who Josh Morgan is, starting WR for San Francicso in his second season out of Virginia Tech (and a sixth round gem). Morgan found his way into our hearts with an impressive rookie season, and an excellent catch on a Shaun Hill
punt pass to beat the Rams in Week 17 of 2008. Expectations were high for Morgan heading into his second season with the club, and while his numbers aren't incredible, he's certainly lived up to the billing. Morgan is the ultimate team guy, and at a position filled around the league by "divas", that's a rarity. When Michael Crabtree finally ended his holdout, it was Morgan that put in the extra effort to help acclimate the rookie. Most starting WRs in the league may feel threatened by a top 10 draft selection, but Morgan embraced his duty as a teammate and put the 49ers first. When injuries forced Morgan into kick return duties, Morgan again accepted the opportunity and has done a formidable job (34.8 YPR). However, this is not about Josh Morgan the ultimate teammate, this is about Josh Morgan the human being.
Morgan is a fine specimen on the field, but words can't describe Morgan's value off the field. Words, however, can describe his community involvement, and there are plenty of examples to illustrate Morgan's character. As a child, Morgan's community never received much help or attention from the professional sports teams. Built on a foundation of strong morals, Morgan has made it his personal duty to change children's lives and provide them with opportunity. A great example: On September 15 of this year, Morgan (and other 49ers teammates) renovated the 49ers Academy EPA SOUL Music Room. Morgan and his teammates transformed a dull environment into a plethora of excellence. Instead of dealing with violent surroundings and exposure to drugs (like Morgan in his youth), the children of the community have somewhere to go complete with couches, chairs, rugs, a wall of framed record covers, microphones, drum set, piano and another wall full of guitars.
It didn't stop there for Morgan, as he and other teammates again pitched in during an event on October 6. This time, the crew built an obstacle course designed to enhance the motor skills and sensory perception of autistic youth. Morgan and his teammates paired with volunteers from the United Way at the Pacific Autism Center for Education (PACE). Speaking of the United Way, Josh Morgan is the team's official United Way spokesman (perhaps you've seen him on ABC discussing the 49ers connection with United Way). Later in the month, there was no time for rest in Morgan's crusade for the community. On October 27, Morgan (along with 3 other players) spoke with troubled teens from New Valley Continuation High School about healthy ways to deal with stress. The young teens then participated in a PLAY 60 Obstacle Course, an example of how exercise can provide a great stress relief. All of the youth were part of the Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) program.
It's becoming quite obvious how great of an individual Morgan is off the field, yet another example was Morgan's Essay Contest on 49ers.com. Morgan asked children to submit essays detailing what it takes to be a great 49er, with the winner spending an afternoon playing catch with the 49ers WR. The eventual winner, 10-year old Chaz Lack, did indeed get to spend some time with Morgan. The importance of this is that Morgan donates more than just money to the community, he donates his time. It's one thing to put a name on a donation, but it's another thing to be face to face with the children. By spending time and putting in tireless effort, Morgan has provided the children of the community with an excellent example of what being professional is all about. Rewarding sound fundamentals of education (writing) and attending events that promote health and exercise, Morgan has earned the title of "Role Model".
After the jump check out some quotes for Josh Morgan from the events mentioned, and also check out a Q&A with the 49ers receiver himself!
At the EPA SOUL Music Room: "We just want to make this place as nice as possible for these kids. Growing up, I never really had anything like this. The professional sports team never really came around, so I’m sure it is exciting for these kids to see us out here face to face without pads on. I really love doing anything for the kids."
From the PACE event: "We pretty much do whatever we can to help the kids and the community. We want the community to be a better place for the kids so they can have a better place to grow up and a better outlook on life."
From the FLY event: "We were teaching them different ways to deal with stress in their life and how to take their aggression out. I told them that I dealt with my stressors by playing football, basketball, working out and doing things like that. We’re just letting them know they don’t always have to react to stressful situations. We’re showing them you can have fun and take your mind of the stress."
Josh Morgan Q & A
On which teammates and coaches have helped him become the person he is today:
"Guys like Marcus Vick and Eddie Royal. My AAU basketball coach, Patrick Gathel, he helped me out a lot. My middle school coach, who also became my high school coach, Coach Ray Fuller. Those have been my main icons who kind of helped me become who I am as a football player and as a person."
On how they helped him as a person:
"As a person, especially with Coach Pat, he is like Isaac Bruce with that mindset. Just to have that type of positive influence in my life was great. They say you can’t be a real mind unless you were taught or raised by one, and he kind of took me under his wing and raised me."
On why he is so active in the community:
"When I was growing up, community service wasn’t really a big deal where I was from. You never saw anybody coming into our community. Our community was what it was – you would go outside and see people get shot, you saw drugs and all that stuff. Just knowing the type of influence I can have to change kids who grow up in a situation like that is great. I was always raised that if you were doing okay, you could always help somebody less fortunate than you. You never know how much that will affect somebody in their life."
On his biggest on-field accomplishment as a 49er:
"Just being a sixth-round pick that has become a starter. Most sixth-round picks are sitting at home because they didn’t make the team or they are on a practice squad."
On his individual goals for the season:
"Just to become a legitimate starter and make a play every chance I get. No matter what I do, every time the ball comes my way, I want to catch it and do something good with it."
On returning kickoffs:
"That was something I did all my life. I did it in college at Virginia Tech and in high school. Unfortunately Arnaz Battle got injured, then they asked me to do it. If they want me to do it the rest of the year, I’m going to do it."
On his role in the passing attack:
"I want to score a lot of touchdowns, that’s the biggest thing. I know I am a big-play guy and can make a lot of big plays out there, I feel I can do anything I want to on the field. Like I said, whenever the ball comes my way I want to make a play and make something happen and get in the end zone."