The 49ers moved one step closer to assembling the entire roster today. And no, Patrick Willis didn’t make a surprising recovery from knee surgery, nor did Manny Lawson decide he was happy after all. But another linebacker, rookie Keaton Kristick, finally entered the fold.
Kristick’s class graduated at Oregon State, meaning he could practice with his new team. He was the final 49ers rookie to take the field this offseason. He confirmed that it pretty much drove him crazy to follow his NFL team from afar for the past month.
“I’ve been reading all this stuff on the Internet. I’m trying to stay involved as much as I can,” Kristick said after practice. “I’ll talk to the coaches every once in a while. It kind of drives you nuts. I’m trying to learn everything I can right now to be ready when training camp starts.”
Kristick called himself “the guy no one’s seen around.” The 49ers coaches gave him a work book to help him remember the defensive plays, and he was around for the rookie camp in early May. Since then, he’s been champing at the bit.
Besides proving to the staff and teammates that he belongs in the NFL, the undrafted free agent is eager to move past his recent misdemeanor conviction for taking an athletic-department golf cart for a joyride at OSU. Kristick got 10 months of bench probation and 25 hours of community service, which he is hoping to fulfill in the Bay Area.
All in all, it was a humbling experience for a young man with a reputation for hard work and good citizenship.
“It’s so embarrassing,” Kristick said. “My family’s from Arizona, so all they’re doing is reading the stuff that everybody else is reading on-line. They’re thinking I did something really, really bad. My grandma, you know, ‘something really bad happened.’ I’m not saying it’s not a bad thing. But I’ve got to do some community service for it, and I’m grateful that’s all it really is.”
Nearly as important as his family’s reaction is the blessing of Beavers coach Mike Riley.
“For as much as I enjoyed my time at Oregon State, and for how strict my coach is, I feel kind of bad that I left that mark on the program,” Kristick said. “I think they’re OK with it now.”