Ricky Pearsall

How Pearsall used Skittles to improve football skills

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Rookie 49ers wide receiver Ricky Pearsall's trajectory to the NFL can be traced back through decades of hard work and a heaping helping of Skittles.

When Pearsall was just 3 years old, his father Ricky Sr. developed a motivational tool by rewarding him with a Skittle whenever he caught a football with his hands, and removing one from a pile whenever he dropped a ball or caught it against his chest (h/t The San Francisco Chronicle).

Ricky Sr., who starred as a wide receiver at Northern Arizona University, instilled an appreciation for football in his son at an early age, developing a dedication to the game that led Pearsall to be a first-round selection the 2024 NFL Draft.

Pearsall's football talent came honestly, as an NFL scout highlighted to The Athletic's Dane Brugler that Ricky Sr. was an exceptional receiver in his own right during his days at Northern Arizona.

“The kid has heart,” the scout told Brugler. “His daddy was a tough as s--t, sticky-handed receiver, and the apple didn’t fall far.”

In an exclusive interview with The San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch, Pearsall confirmed that he doesn't expect Ricky Sr.'s guidance to regress just because he made to the NFL.

“Oh, 1,000 percent,” Pearsall told Branch. “He’s on me to this day about stuff that I do. It’s not going to stop, I promise you. Year 10 [in the NFL], he’s probably going to be texting me similar stuff. Hopefully I fix a few things by then.”

While he has come a long way from catching passes for Skittles, Pearsall's love of the game remains on full display as he embarks on a new chapter with a 49ers team that will rely on him heavily to assist the continued pursuit of the sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy that San Francisco has so narrowly missed out on over the last decade.

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