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49ers’ Floyd reveals unique origins behind relentless work ethic

49ers’ Floyd reveals unique origins behind relentless work ethic originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

New 49ers pass rusher Leonard Floyd is known for his relentlessness on the field, and on Monday, the team’s defensive-line addition shared where his motor originates from.

“I believe it came from being a country boy,” Floyd said via video conference. “I’m used to working in the fields. When I was growing up, I worked in a watermelon field. That’s real hard labor. I started when I was in ninth grade summer, high school, all the way to my 12th grade year.”

The labor paid off, earning Floyd a University of Georgia scholarship before he was selected No. 9 overall in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

“It teaches you grind,” Floyd said. “It teaches you real hard work. I’m just used to selling out and working hard for whatever boss I got.”

Floyd’s hard work has been evident throughout his eight-year NFL career. In Floyd’s 121 game appearances, he was listed as the starter in all but one — Week 16 of the 2023 season as a member of the Buffalo Bills.

The 31-year-old pass rusher has yet to earn a Pro Bowl selection but has racked up 58 total career sacks and 370 tackles — 228 solo and 63 for a loss. Maybe most importantly, Floyd has not missed a regular-season game in his past six seasons (99 games).

“It comes from taking care of my body, and it’s overall a mindset thing,” Floyd said. “I’m not saying I’m going into every game 100 percent — there’s been nicks and knacks — but I’m man enough to play through it. That’s really what it comes down to.”

Floyd signed a two-year contract with the 49ers worth $20 million — $12 million guaranteed — in NFL free agency following his one-year stint with the Buffalo Bills, where he earned $7 million.

Floyd might have his watermelon days partially to thank for his NFL success, but he did not like the intense labor. It was simply a necessary means to an end.

“I didn’t [like it], but I had to buy school clothes and school shoes, so I had to,” Floyd said.

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