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James Ahkello Elec Witherspoon (born March 21, 1995) is an American football cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Colorado.

Ahkello Witherspoon
refer to caption
Witherspoon in 2017
No. 23 – San Francisco 49ers
Personal information
Born: (1995-03-21) March 21, 1995 (age 24)
Sacramento, California
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Christian Brothers
(Sacramento, California)
NFL Draft:2017 / Round: 3 / Pick: 66
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career NFL statistics as of 2018
Total tackles:69
Forced fumbles:1
Fumble recoveries:0
Pass deflections:11
Player stats at


High school careerEdit

Witherspoon attended Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, California. He played only one season of football in high school.[1]

College careerEdit

Witherspoon played at Sacramento City College for one year before transferring to the University of Colorado Boulder.[2][3] He played at Colorado from 2014 to 2016.[4][5] During his career he had 71 tackles and three interceptions.

Professional careerEdit

Coming out of Colorado, Witherspoon was projected to be a second or third round pick by the majority of NFL draft experts and scouts. He received an invitation the NFL Combine and performed nearly every combine drill, but opted to skip the bench press. On March 8, 2017, he chose to participate at Colorado's pro day long with, Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson, Sefo Liufau, and ten other prospects. All 32 NFL teams had team representatives and scouts present.[6] He had five private workouts and visits with the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks.[7] He was ranked the 14th best cornerback prospect in the draft by[8]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert jump Broad
6 ft 3 in
(1.91 m)
198 lb
(90 kg)
33 in
(0.84 m)
9 78 in
(0.25 m)
4.45 s 1.53 s 2.57 s 4.13 s 6.93 s 40 12 in
(1.03 m)
10 ft 6 in
(3.20 m)
All values from NFL Combine[9][8]

The San Francisco 49ers selected Ahkello in the third round (66th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.[10] He was the 11th cornerback selected in the 2017 NFL draft.

2017 season: Rookie yearEdit

Witherspoon in 2017

On May 12, 2017, the San Francisco 49ers signed Witherspoon to a four-year, $3.88 million contract with a signing bonus of $973,572.[11]

Witherspoon competed with Dontae Johnson, Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, and K'Waun Williams throughout training camp for the starting cornerback position.[12] Head coach Kyle Shanahan named him the fifth cornerback on the depth chart behind Dontae Johnson, Rashard Robinson, K'Waun Williams, and Asa Jackson.

Witherspoon was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the year. On October 8, 2017, he made his NFL debut and recorded one tackle during a 23-26 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts.[13] On October 29, 2017, Witherspoon earned his first NFL start and recorded three solo tackles, a pass deflection, and picked off a pass attempt by Carson Wentz for his first NFL interception as the 49ers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 10-33.[14] Witherspoon earned the start in place of Rashard Robinson who was benched after repetitive Penalties and then traded to the New York Jets, two days later. Head coach Kyle Shanahan stated that Witherspoon would be the starting cornerback, opposite Dontae Johnson, moving forward and his development was one of the key factors in trading Robinson. Pro Football Focus graded Witherspoon the best player on the San Francisco 49ers during the matchup against the Eagles and credited him with allowing three receptions on eight targets.[15] During a Week 16 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Witherspoon recorded his second interception of the year by picking off Blake Bortles as the 49ers won by a score of 44-33.

Witherspoon finished his rookie year playing in 12 games with nine starts, recording 32 tackles, seven passes defended, and two interceptions.

2018 seasonEdit

Witherspoon entered the 2018 season as a starting cornerback alongside Richard Sherman. He played in 14 games with 12 starts, recording 37 tackles and four passes defended. He was placed on injured reserve on December 18, 2018 with a knee injury.[16]

NFL statisticsEdit

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Comb Total Ast Sck PD Int Yds Avg Lng TD FF FR
2017 SF 12 9 32 28 4 0.0 7 2 42 21.0 23 0 1 0
2018 SF 14 12 37 30 7 0.0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Career 26 21 69 58 11 0.0 11 2 42 21.0 23 0 1 1

Personal lifeEdit

Witherspoon is the grandson of bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon.[17][3]


  1. ^ "Colorado Buffaloes reaping benefits of Ahkello Witherspoon's late switch to football". October 6, 2016.
  2. ^ "Colorado football: Buffs land commitment No. 16 with defensive back Witherspoon".
  3. ^ a b Davidson, Joe (October 7, 2016). "Late bloomer Ahkello Witherspoon helps boost Colorado" – via Sacramento Bee.
  4. ^ "Colorado Buffaloes' Ahkello Witherspoon excelling in pass coverage". September 15, 2016.
  5. ^ "Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon makes most of breakthrough opportunity". October 7, 2014.
  6. ^ Ryan Megay (March 8, 2017). "Record Setting Attendance at CU Pro Timing Day". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  7. ^ "Walter Football: 2017 NFL Draft Prospect Visits/Workouts". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  8. ^ a b "Ahkello Witherspoon, DS #14 CB, Colorado". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  9. ^ "NFL Draft Profile: Ahkello Witherspoon". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Fann, Joe (April 28, 2017). "San Francisco 49ers Draft Colorado CB Ahkello Witherspoon".
  11. ^ " Ahkello Witherspoon contract". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  12. ^ " San Francisco 49ers' depth chart: 08/01/2017". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "49ers-Colts inactives: Ahkello Witherspoon active for the first time". October 9, 2017. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  14. ^ "N Player Stats: Ahkello Witherspoon". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Nick Wagoner (November 1, 2017). "Penalties, belief in Ahkello Witherspoon led to Rashard Robinson trade". Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  16. ^ "49ers Place Ahkello Witherspoon on IR, Sign Tyvis Powell". December 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "San Francisco 49ers: Ahkello Witherspoon".

External linksEdit