The high school coaches of professional athletes can often vividly recall the first time they saw them play as teenagers.
Jason Strickland is one of those coaches.
However, Strickland’s first glance at 49ers offensive lineman Jason Poe isn’t burned into his memory because he thought the freshman at Fitzgerald (Ga.) High School was headed for the NFL. Instead, he thought the kid – a football novice lacking size and coordination – was headed for the hospital.
“Jason got to us as a ninth grader at Fitzgerald and was literally one of the worst football players that I’ve ever seen,” Strickland said. “It was just horrendous, horrendous. And we thought the kid was really going to wind up getting hurt. We tried to convince him to just be a manager because he was so bad. We thought he’d be more valuable to us as a manager. But he wanted to play. And he stuck it out.”
And it improbably worked out. After Poe didn’t play organized sports until his freshman year at Fitzgerald. And after he struggled to get snaps on the junior varsity his first two seasons.
Poe’s late start led to his not-to-be-replicated, three-college journey to the NFL, which he entered when the 49ers signed him as undrafted free agent after last month’s draft. Poe beat the odds after beating the bushes: He played at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, where he was a fullback, and Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University…