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Gardner earns tryout with Niners
JaQuan Gardner - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The San Francisco 49ers have extended a tryout invitation to Ja'Quan Gardner.

The Central Valley grad/former Humboldt State star running back received the news Monday afternoon.

"He's a super productive player," said Cameron Weiss, Ja'Quan's agent. "He's a high-character kid. He has the skills to succeed at the next level."

"I didn't get drafted or get to sign anything," Gardner said. "I'm working to get there. This is a great opportunity. It's definitely a blessing."

Gardner will report to the rookie minicamp in Santa Clara this week.

He'll compete against draft picks and free agents on Friday and Saturday.

"This is the best of the best," Ja'Quan said. "You got to go in with confidence. I'm coming in as an underdog. I believe in myself. I'm excited to get to show the team what I can do."

Gardner will work out with the Los Angeles Rams next week.

"There's no added pressure," he said. "It's just going out and playing ball. All I need is one team that believes in my abilities and that I can help them."

Gardner wrapped up his gridiron career at the college level this past fall.

He'll be remembered as Humboldt State's best skilled-position player.

Ja'Quan finished seventh in voting for the Harlon Hill award, the NCAA Division-II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, after rushing for 1,259 yards and scoring 19 touchdowns during his senior year.

A three-time D2 Conference Commissioners Association All-American, Gardner was voted Great Northwest Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year for the second time.
He was also named an All American by the Associated Press and American Football Coaches Association.

Ja'Quan led the Lumberjacks to an 8-2 overall record in 2017.

Gardner became the GNAC's all-time leader in career touchdowns scored (75), points scored (450), all-purpose yards (6,979), all-purpose yards per game (170.2), rushing attempts (878), rushing yards (5,426) and rushing touchdowns (70).

He set conference single-game marks with 446 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns, and tied another league record with five rushing TDs during Humboldt State's 52-49 Homecoming win over Azusa Pacific.

Gardner's performance earned him GNAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for a record-tying ninth time.

He shattered 10 team records during his first three seasons at Humboldt State, including rushing yardage in a career, rushing yardage in a season, rushing yardage in a single game, touchdowns scored in a career, touchdowns scored in a season, touchdowns scored in a game, points scored in a career, points scored in a season, points scored in a game and longest rushing play.

Gardner was runner-up for the Harlon Hill award in 2015. He ranked first in the nation in rushing yards (2,266), rushing yards per game (188.8), and rushing touchdowns (25).

"To be in the position I'm at today, I couldn't ask for more," Gardner said. "I'm thankful for the people that supported and believed in me."