The reigning NFC champions beat their division rivals to the punch for Canadian offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley.
Multiple NFC West Division franchises reached out to Shepley prior to the cancellation of the 2020 CFL season.
“I knew there was interest for me down here before there was an opt out clause. It was just a matter of doing it right and by the book,” Shepley said on The Rouge Report podcast.
“There were a few teams leading up to the opt out clause period, Arizona and Seattle, a lot of West coast teams — NFC West. It really was whoever wanted to fly me out first and thankfully it was San Francisco.”
The 25-year-old signed a one-year deal for the 2020 season with the 49ers. Shepley earned the contract over two other offensive lineman who were selected in past NFL drafts — Jamon Brown (third rounder, 2015) and Ted Larsen (sixth rounder, 2010). Both had experience in the league.
“San Francisco hit me up and wanted a video of me working out on the field, moving around just to see if I was in shape. It’s an investment to fly guys out for workouts because you have to pass three COVID tests before your workout. The team has to fly you out, put you up for three nights and then the workout is on the fourth day,” Shepley said.
“I just sat in the hotel for three days. Luckily, I brought resistance bands. I felt like I was doing prison workouts for real. I was doing jumping jacks and push ups and bands and squats. I was taking sets in my hotel room, moved the office chair and doing sets in the mirror.”
San Francisco lost its first game of the season to Arizona, but bounced back for two wins in New York, first over the Jets and then Giants. Shepley was with the 49ers for the entire East coast trip because the team didn’t want to fly coast to coast two weeks in a row.
“We flew to New York on Saturday, played on Sunday and then we flew to West Virginia and stayed at this really nice resort in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains,” Shepley said about The Greenbrier, which has hosted NFL teams for training camp in the past.
“They started building the structure of the place in the late 1700s. 27 presidents have stayed there. There was a bomb shelter built into it during the Cold War for the president. It was a really cool historical place. We had an entire wing of the hotel just for the team.”
Whether it’s been on the West coast or in swanky presidential facilities, Shepley went from having no job in the CFL to preparing on the practice squad for when his number is called by the 49ers to the active roster.