Tag Archives: san fransisco 49ers

Gardner, Ja’Quan

Cards: Topps AAF 2019, Topps AAF NOW 2.17.19, Topps AAF NOW 2.24.19, Topps AAF 2019 Certified
Acquired: TTM 2019 & 2020, C/o Home.
Sent: 8/8/19 Received: 8/26/19 (18 days)
Sent: 6/29/20 Received: 8/24/20 (56 days)

Ja’Quan Gardner played runningback for Humboldt State University from 2014 to 2017. While playing for the Lumberjacks he compiled some truly impressive numbers. During his Sophomore run, Gardner had 2266 rushing yards on 337 carries and 25 TDs. He finished his career for the Jacks with 880 carries, 5,495 yards, and 72 TDs, Ja’Quan was also a talented receiver out of the backfield managing 81 career receptions for 767 yards and 4 TDs.

Gardner, despite his numbers did not receive a call to attend the NFL combine or get drafted in 2018. A sparkplug- at 5’6″- teams probably shied from his size and small school stature. He received a tryout call for the San Fransisco 49ers- but after working out, didn’t hear back from them. Still Ja’Quan stayed in playing shape and waited for his chance.

Three months later he received the call from the 49ers, but he thought that his agent was joking with him. The 49ers though were aching at runningback with Matt Brieda, Jerick McKinnon, and Joe Williams all being bit by the injury bug entering the team’s final preseason contest. More of an insurance policy for the team than anything else, Gardner spent all of 3 days on the roster before being waived.

Ja’Quan was allocated to the San Diego Fleet of the AAF in 2019. Gardner came recommended by a Chargers scout to head coach Mike Martz, so despite not really knowing who he was, the coaching staff decided to take a stab at him. Runningbacks in Mike Martz’s systems tend to be do-it-all backs- and Gardner took the lead role.

During his debut against the San Antonio Commanders, Gardner rushed 8 times for 55 yards, but the Fleet were thankfully more interested in passing the ball- than rushing the ball. Ja’Quan was fast once he hit the hole. His size and gameplay speed were quite deceptive.

“He can change direction and he has good hands. He’s very patient and if the hole’s there — boom, he’s gone.”

– DAVE BOLLIER
SAN DIEGO FLEET

Ja’Quan came back the next weekend and ran all over the Atlanta Legends. He’d carry the load for the Fleet rushing for 104 yards and on 15 carries. His 2 rushing TDs were both scored in the 4th quarter and were the first of the season on the ground for the franchise. Gardner was also the second player in the history of the league to record a 100 yard effort- only behind Zac Stacy who had beaten him to the punch only by a few hours.

In Week 3, Gardner powered the Fleet to a dominating victory over their rival San Antonio Commanders in San Diego, 31-11. During the 3rd quarter, Ja’Quan took a hand-off up the middle and dashed a record 83 yards to pay dirt. He also finished with 122 yards on 12 carries, which also stood as a league record- and he became the first player in league history to rush for 100 yards in back to back games.

“His run reads are impeccable. He sees things so well.”
– MIKE MARTZ
HEAD COACH

Teams began to gameplan against Gardner, and with injuries slowly taking their toll, he didn’t see the same measure of success the rest of the season. Still Ja’Quan finished 8th in the league in rushing with 311 yards in 7 games. Gardner wanted to get a shot with another NFL team, so he needed to rehab a shoulder injury. Shortly before Week 8, he’d be placed on IR. -Soon thereafter the league folded.

I love me some runningbacks and Gardner, despite gashing my team for 122 yards, was one of my favorites. I have been collaborating with Mark from Mark’s Signing Bonus. I had seen the address for Gardner after internet snooping only a day or two before he messaged me to tell me that he had luck with Ja’Quan. I excitedly put together the Topps Now cards and his base and sent them out. He not only responded- Gardner wrote a touching note thanking me for being a fan and supporting him.

I thought Gardner would make a nice fit for the XFL- perhaps the Houston Roughnecks where they went full Run N Shoot, but alas the Seattle Dragons nabbed him, Kenneth Farrow, AND Trey Williams. Ja’Quan in 5 games finished with 35 carries for 127 yards and a 13 yard long before the league shut down due to COVID concerns after the 5th game.

Ja’Quan wrote me another nice note thanking me for being a fan and writing him again. I hope he returns to the XFL again and keeps chasing his football dreams.

Daniels, BJ

Card: Topps AAF 2019 Certified
Acquired: 2019, EBay

BJ Daniels has always been an intriguing dual threat quarterback prospect. Playing for the University of South Florida Daniels played for the college from 2008-2012. He took over the starting job for the team in 2009, passing for almost 2000 yards and 14 TDs while rushing for 772 yards and 9 TDs. He averaged 8.7 yards per completion that year. His best year came in 2011, when BJ threw for 2,604 yards and 13 TDs, while rushing for 601 and 6 TDs. Daniels was selected during the 7th round (237th pick) of the 2013 draft by the San Fransisco 49ers.

After being cut by the 49ers, Daniels was claimed by the Seattle Seahawks 2013. He’d spend time on and off their practice squad, and then moved to wide receiver by 2015. Cut again, the Houston Texans claimed Daniels and placed him on their practice squad. With the Texans having issues at QB due to injury, Daniels was able to get into a game near the end of the season in Wildcat situations. He’d run for 6 yards, and pass for 7.

In 2016, BJ was signed by the Giants, but later found himself on the roster of the Bears. He did not make the final cut. Late in 2016, BJ was claimed by the Falcons, who then tried to convert him to runningback. Again he’d find himself cut in 2017.

BJ decided to try his hand at Canadian Football in 2018, signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but was cut.

He’d be assigned to the Orlando Apollos of the AAF, however BJ was selected in the second round of the AAF QB draft by the Salt Lake City Stallions. With a strong camp it looked like BJ might get the starting nod going into the regular season, but a freak injury during the preseason contest against Memphis ended his AAF season. He was 5/9 for 40 yards and a TD before the injury.

Daniels was placed on IR, and attended a few team away viewing parties for Stallions fans during the season.

Millen, Matt

Cards: ProSet 1989, Topps 1990, Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: TTM 2018, C/o Home
Sent: 8/3/18 Received: 1/17/19 (167 days)
Failure: TTM 2015, C/o Home

Matt Millen comes from a long pedigree of great linebackers to come out of Penn State- and was an All-American in 1978. He was selected in the second round of the 1980 draft by the then Oakland Raiders. He’d go on to be the Raiders leading tackler in 1981, 1982, and 1988- earning a ProBowl nomination in the latter, and All-Pro Nominations in 1984 and 1985. Over this period Matt also won SuperBowls XV and XVIII. A vicious hitter, player, and run stopper, Matt was unceremoniously cut by the Raiders right before the 1989 season began. He’d be snatched up by the San Fransisco 49ers and go on to win another Super Bowl. Two seasons later he’d round out his career with a final Super Bowl win with the Washington Redskins.

Matt moved into the broadcast booth where he honed his skills and then later joined the Detroit Lions as their General Manager. While Matt’s tenure there was rightfully much maligned- he was also placed into a difficult rebuilding situation. A tireless worker, it is said that he essentially lived at the team’s complex working non-stop for the franchise. After being dismissed from his time with the Lions, Matt was offered a job with the Oakland Raiders but he declined, and has returned to broadcasting.

A few years ago I had shot a few cards out to Matt who was a very reliable and consistent signer. At about the same time another greedy collector sent out a request- that included 23 cards. Viewing the successes on sportscollectors.net it was incredibly frustrating to see this other person get their request completely filled- while mine never was.

When I heard that he was diagnosed with Amyloidosis- the same disease as Lions LB Mike Cofer– and that he needed a heart transplant, I thought I should send Matt another letter. I didn’t really expect anything back, and I had hoped that he’d find some small comfort in what I wrote. He was really struggling and needing a heart transplant. Six months or so later I heard he had a successful heart transplant and was already recovering from the surgery. Within a few days, I got back all 3 of these cards signed.

I was genuinely shocked, but it’s quite a credit to Matt that he’d bother to send these autographed cards back out to me and I will always treasure them a bit more than I will admit.

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