SANTA CLARA (CBS SF/AP) — The San Francisco 49ers were one of four teams to add an international player to its practice squad, recently signing a promising offensive lineman from Mexico, the NFL announced this week.

Alfredo Gutierrez comes from the Tecnológico de Monterrey’s Borregos Salvajes, who won the Comité Ejecutivo de la Comisión Nacional Deportiva Estudiantil de Instituciones Privada (CONADEIP) national championship in 2019. (CONADEIP is a league of private colleges in Mexico.)

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Gutierrez comes to the 49ers via the NFL’s International Player Pathway program, which has served as a pipeline for foreign football players to the league since 2017. Among players imported into the NFl through the program are Cincinnati Bengals tight end Moritz Böhringer and New England Patriots fullback Jakob Johnson, both Germans, and Jordan Mailata, offensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, who is Australian.

“The International Player Pathway Program provides athletes with a viable route to the NFL and an opportunity to further develop their skills,” said Damani Leech, NFL chief operating officer of international.

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Gutierrez grew up playing youth football in Mexico before moving to the U.S. After high school and some time in junior college, he joined Tecnológico de Monterreyon a full athletic scholarship. Thanks to the program, he received additional training alongside NFL players and draft prospects in Florida during the winter.

The NFC West was chosen in a random draw to become the fifth division to participate in the program. The other players in the program are linebacker Aaron Donkor of Germany, who went to the Seattle Seahawks; offensive lineman Max Pircher of Italy, going to the Los Angeles Rams; and tight end Bernhard Seikovits of Austria, headed to the Arizona Cardinals.

Additionally, four players that participated in the program in 2020 will rejoin their NFC East teams — Isaac Alarcon (Dallas Cowboys), David Bada (Washington Football Team), Matt Leo (Philadelphia Eagles) and Sandro Platzgummer (New York Giants). This is in addition to Christian Wade (Buffalo Bills) and Durval Queiroz (Miami Dolphins), who are set to enter their third year of the program with their AFC East teams.

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