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Givens makes 49ers; Mencer still in limbo

Two Altoona Area High School products have kept their dreams alive for making an NFL team this season.

NFL teams trimmed their rosters from 80 to 53 on Saturday.

Defensive tackle Kevin Givens earned a spot on the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man roster after spending most of last season on the practice squad.

Eli Mencer, a linebacker and special teams player, was placed on the Seattle Seahawks’ injured reserved list and his status is currently more uncertain.

Both are 2015 graduates of Altoona.

Givens was on the 49ers’ 53-man roster for the last four regular-season games in 2019 as well as their playoff run, which included a trip to Super Bowl LIV in Miami (a loss to Kansas City).

An undrafted free agent out of Penn State, Givens appeared in one game and made one tackle.

He thinks the 2019 experience benefited during this training camp.

“Yes, definitely, it helped a lot with just me getting stronger and getting used to the speed of the game,” he said in a text message.

Givens, 23, called Saturday’s news “an honor to be part of this team.”

He thanked the San Francisco coaches and staff “for believing and giving me a chance to represent the 49ers. I’m just blessed to be in this position.”

Teams announced their practice squads on Sunday. Practice squads have been expanded from 10 players last year to 16 this season due to the coronavirus.

It’s possible Mencer could land there once he comes off the injured list due to a hamstring pull.

Mencer was credited with 198 career tackles at FCS Albany over the past three seasons, including a school single-season record 14.5 tackles for loss in 2019.

He technically was waived Aug. 29 with an injury designation and could be put on Seattle’s injured reserve list if he clears waivers.

“I’m not really sure where I stand,” Mencer said Sunday night. “There’s still things that need to be done.”

Because of the coronavirus, the NFL exhibition season was canceled, which hurt rookies in general and especially the undrafted free agents like Mencer.

“I would say I’m a little disappointed because I wasn’t able to prove myself, but I’ve tried to make the best of the situation,” Mencer said.

Mencer is remaining in Seattle and awaiting more information.

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