Drake Jackson details new commitment to success with 49ers

Aug 3, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:10 am

Drake Jackson #95 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a play in the fourth quarter against the Ca...

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 09: Drake Jackson #95 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates a play in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

(Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

2022 was a harsh reality for defensive end Drake Jackson, stepping onto the NFL stage for his premiere season.

The 49ers prospect came into the team with high expectations as a second-round pick out of USC. Jackson possessed all the physical tools to be effective his rookie season, with star pass rusher Nick Bosa impressed with his skills. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Jackson struggled to find his footing in 2022, going from consistent playing time to healthy scratches in the postseason. San Francisco knew the talent that he had, but couldn’t keep him on the field as he wore down with the grind of the season.

After the team’s loss in the NFC Championship, the California native took a long, hard look at himself. After self-evaluation, he came to the conclusion that 2023 was going to be different.

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice for the better,” Drake Jackson told the media recently.

Jackson, 22, spent the entire offseason staying close to the 49ers facility. He spent much of his time in the weight room, putting on 15 pounds of muscle to beef up his presence in the trenches.

The result: A bigger, stronger version of the player.

“I feel well, I feel really well actually. Just put on a little more muscle,” Jackson stated. “I feel real good, I feel fluid…I definitely feel a difference. I felt the difference just striding out, doing other things [on the field].”

But when asked if the coaching staff mandated the increase in muscle mass, Jackson pushed back, stating that he made the decision all on his own. And while some may question if his athletic prowess has wavered, that’s not the case.

“Really it was just for me,” he explained. “Just working on myself, you know, I felt like I needed to [put on muscle]. Like I said, the first season just kind of taking in what I knew. Like, I needed a little more weight…I felt like that [athleticism] never left with any weight [I put on].”

And the work is already starting to pay off, with his teammates noticing a major difference in Year 2.

“He’s got a good mindset. I think last year, you know, the ‘rookie way’ but this year he’s bringing it,” right tackle Colton McKivitz said on Jackson.

Jackson has also been given more chances in training camp due to Nick Bosa holding out for a new contract. But don’t get it twisted: The player is thrilled to be on the 49ers’ stacked D-Line, becoming a sponge with the veterans around him.

And with several rotational players from last season now on new teams, the second-year DE will get his chance to start alongside them.

“Truly blessed, it’s a blessed line to play with. I feel like God put me in the right place at the right time with the right people,” Drake Jackson said.

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