As the 49ers get set for their Salute to Service during the Veterans Day matchup against the Rams on Sunday, Coach Jim Harbaugh invited four-star Army Gen. Robert Cone to address his players following Friday’s practice.
The high-profile visit struck a chord with players like Ahmad Brooks, as the 49ers will also honor the armed forces with helmet decals on Sunday afternoon at Candlestick Park.
“Just being able to see somebody that fought in the war, not in just one war, but several different wars and make it out alive, it’s kind of a miracle,” the veteran linebacker said. “For him to come out here and talk to us and let us know how the Army sees us; we’re all United States citizens and they support us just as we support them. It was a good thing.”
Gen. Cone is a highly-respected member of the Army with service that dates back to 1979, including stints in Operation Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He is currently the Commanding General of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, responsible for traveling the country to educate and train Army forces nationwide.
So when the 49ers received word that Cone was in the Bay Area this weekend, Harbaugh extended an invitation to Friday’s practice and Sunday’s game.
“He had a great message for the fellas,” Harbaugh said.” Talked a lot about what his soldiers do in Afghanistan and how much they appreciate what our soldiers do here, our players do, and how big of fans they are of the National Football League. And a couple other really inspiring messages that I know our players really appreciated. Just the dedication of his soldiers and their loyalty to their country and to their team and to the fight that they’re in. So, it was a great message for us.”
Harbaugh has a history of honoring and recognizing our servicemen and women whenever he has the chance. The 49ers hosted nearly 40 members of the Armed Forces to watch practice on Wednesday, while the team visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during last year’s trip to the nation’s capital, and forged relationships with Gen. Martin Dempsey and Sgt. Dontae Skywalker.
“We honor the military,” Harbaugh said. “We know that their fight is life and death. It’s different from what we do. But, if we try to emulate or in any way espouse to be like the military, it’s strictly as something that honors them.”
Cone wasn’t the only special guest on hand for Friday’s practice session. The 49ers also hosted eight-year-old Ty Crouch and his family from Quapaw, Okla., in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Crouch is serving as an honorary member of the 49ers this weekend and will take part in the coin toss before Sunday’s contest.
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