Ronnie Bell

Why 49ers rookie Bell ditched college basketball for football

NBC Universal, Inc.

If not for one last-minute decision, 49ers rookie wide receiver Ronnie Bell might never have suited up for a game on the NFL gridiron.

On the latest episode of the "You've Got Mail" podcast with 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares, Bell explained why he transitioned from playing basketball after committing to Missouri State University to continuing his football career with the University of Michigan.

"It happened fast, it was my senior year," Bell explained. "Football season I'm going out there on Fridays, giving it my all, doing my thing, setting a bunch of records and breaking a bunch of records. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh, his brother-in-law coached basketball for a school that was in my conference and I guess they had just been talking ball and at the time there was no receiver going to Michigan in my class and so they were talking ball and his brother had mentioned my name and said he watched my film and he called me the next day.

"I mean, shoot, once I got that phone call it was a no-brainer for me because I knew I wanted to play football the whole time, it was just a matter of the situation at hand. Once coach called my phone, I de-committed and committed to Michigan in like a week or something like that. The rest is history."

Bell switched from basketball to football and never looked back. In 42 combined games across five collegiate seasons with the Wolverines, Bell recorded 145 receptions for 2,269 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

The 49ers selected Bell with the No. 253 overall pick in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft and the rookie earned a spot on the 53-man roster after an impressive preseason showing.

With star receiver Brandon Aiyuk sidelined for San Francisco's Week 3 win over the New York Giants, Bell stepped up and recorded his first two career receptions and first touchdown.

As the rookie looks to carve out a role for himself in the offense, the 49ers certainly are glad he stuck with football.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Contact Us