SANTA CLARA — Ronnie Bell’s "Thursday Night Football" debut will be a game he always will remember after recording his first career NFL touchdown in the 49ers' 30-12 win over the New York Giants at Levi's Stadium.
After the rookie wide receiver caught both of his two targets for 24 yards and a touchdown in San Francisco's Week 3 win, Bell was riding on cloud nine.
“It’s surreal, excited, blessed,” Bell said as equipment manager Donovan “Doc” Dressler delivered the touchdown ball to the wideout. “Didn’t even know, I got a little sticker too. They got it all hooked up for me. Appreciate our EQ guys. Best on the business.”
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“This might not leave my side tonight,” Bell said of the football.
Where the football will be on Thursday evening is more certain than the outcome of Bell’s touchdown at the moment he caught the ball.
At the end of the 49ers' first drive of the second half, Bell curled out to the front left side of the end zone where quarterback Brock Purdy found him for the attempt. The Michigan product knew that he had made it past the goal line and secured the ball, but also that there were penalty flags on the field.
San Francisco 49ers
Still, Bell celebrated, spinning the ball on the grass and waving to the crowd. The officials finally announced the flags were for holding by Giants outside linebacker Oshane Ximines.
Bell had recorded his first career score.
One thing the rookie forgot in the euphoria of his score was the actual football. Thankfully, George Kittle, who is known for making sure players reunite with notable footballs, was on the scene. The All-Pro grabbed the ball and took it to the equipment staff for safe keeping.
Bell was not only effective on the field with the offense -- he notched a huge tackle on a punt return, pinning the Giants to their own 10-yard line. The rookie's hard work has been noticed by Kittle.
“I’ve actually always appreciated Ronnie since he first got here,” Kittle said. “He’s got a great work ethic. The best thing about rookies is when they aren’t very talkative and they just grind every day. He’s done a fantastic job with that.”
With early progress like his performance on Thursday night, Bell will have plenty of opportunities to grow a collection of footballs.