Tag:San Francisco 49ers
Posted on: June 16, 2011 11:27 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 12:07 pm

Harbaugh mum on Smith, calls Crabtree 'good guy'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

New 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been outspoken about his plans for quarterback Alex Smith, even though Smith will be a free agent once the lockout is resolved, and the NFL issued a memo last month to the team reminding them not to comment on players not on the roster.

Either Harbaugh just got around to reading said memo or he didn't give it much credence until now. Either way, he's toned down the Alex Smith cheerleading. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Harbaugh avoided mentioning Smith by name during a Wednesday interview on "The Murph & Mac Show" on KNBR-680.

"On Sunday, Harbaugh, despite the memo, had spoken freely about Smith during an on-air interview with Padres announcer Dick Enberg during a Padres-Nationals game in San Diego," the Press Democrat's Eric Branch wrote Wednesday. "Harbaugh said Smith's decision to return to San Francisco, where he's been the subject of withering criticism, displayed 'a rare kind of character. It probably falls somewhere in the endangered and extinct range. So we can win with that.' On KNBR, however, Harbaugh was asked two Smith-related questions and, in response, spoke in general terms."

Harbaugh also spoke about wide receiver Michael Crabtree who, unlike Smith, is currently under contract with the 49ers:

"I've been around him a little bit," the coach said. "And Crab to me is a good guy and a good football player. Just some of the things lately kind of goes back to the analogy I gave a little bit ago, when you're kids and working it out and sometimes you get into some tussles and shirts get ripped and noses get bloodied, but that's part of figuring it out.

"I know he's a good guy. I know the other guys on our team are good guys. That's another interesting part of watching these guys figure it out. I know personally, when it comes to me, getting into quite few scrapes growing up. Most people I know and are friends with had some run-ins at some point in time. And, usually, you're better friends because of it. But, no, he's got the license and the ability. And from my experience begin around him, I think he's a guy who's about us and about the team being successful."

And we can't hold it against Crabtree that he didn't know that Alex is supposedly the 49ers starting quarterback in 2011. Last season, two Smiths -- Alex and Troy -- shared the starting duties, and both had run-ins with then-coach Mike Singletary. All that matters is that Crabtree isn't picky.

"Whoever the quarterback is, I'm 100 percent down with it and I'm ready to go," he said last week. "That's it."

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Posted on: June 8, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 9:17 pm

49ers Hall of Famers donate brains for research

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Player safety is arguably the biggest issue facing the NFL. If the league can't regulate the constant threat of serious injury -- or worse -- out of the game, one long-term possibility (albeit remote given its current popularity) is that fans will grow tired of the brutality and professional football will go the way of boxing.

Which is to say: It could become a niche sport, and niche sports aren't multi-billion dollar industries. This should trouble NFL owners more than how to split 10-figure revenues with players.

If you can get past the political grandstanding, player safety was the primary impetus for the sudden rule changes midway through the 2010 season. That said, a few press conferences about reinforcing points of emphasis is a long cry from alleviating concussions and head trauma.

But as Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward has said countless times in recent months, playing this sport is a choice. "I understand where [the league is] coming from, but at the same time, you can't protect football. It's a violent sport. If you want to protect it, we need to play flag football.”

That doesn't mean the NFL shouldn't explore ways to reduce head injuries, or that medical research about the effects of 300-pound guys running full speed into each other shouldn't continue, just that there are inherent dangers in this line of work.

Which brings us to 49ers Hall of Famers Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson. Perry was 84 years old when he died this April, and Johnson passed away Friday at the age of 81. The Sacramento Bee's Matthew Barrows writes that the former running backs' brains will be examined at Boston University for evidence of dementia-like disease brought on by repeated trauma to the head.

Details via Barrows:
Perry's spouse, Donna, said she suspected Perry was suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The condition previously had been associated with boxers but has recently been found in a number of ex-NFL players. …

Johnson's daughter, Kathy Moppin, said she is filling out the paperwork to have her father's brain examined. Moppin took care of her father, known as a punishing blocker, for the past nine years. She said his condition affected everything about him, from his memory to his ability to speak and walk.
Barrows notes that chronic traumatic encephalopathy has been detected in more than 20 deceased players, including former Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who committed suicide earlier this year at the age of 50. Shortly before taking his life, Duerson sent a text message to family members asking that his brain be donated for research.

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine announced the results in May: Duerson had brain damage.

The NFL isn't part of the Boston University study, but it gave $1 million last year and, according to Barrows, has encouraged players to donate their brains for research.

But here's the thing: Everybody's on board with making the game safer. The problem is that the NFL is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Decreeing six weeks into the 2010 season that rules violators will suffer swift, severe penalties was unpopular, but it sent a zero-tolerance message to the players. But the commissioner can't then turn around and prattle on about expanding the NFL season to 18 games because it's what the fans want (even though, you know, they don't).

The takeaway? If you ever find yourself questioning someone's motives, it inevitably comes down to one thing: money. The NFL is no different. Thankfully, despite what Roger Goodell might say publicly, fans aren't interested in more regular-season games, and players refused to discuss it during labor negotiations.

As one player told CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman last month, "We view it as a health issue and quality of life issue." Which, frankly, is how we should all view it.

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Posted on: June 8, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: June 8, 2011 10:48 am

Players taking big risks by practicing

M. Crabtree had to sit out San Francisco's practice with sore feet (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

One of the biggest concerns – if not THE biggest concern – of players practicing with each other on their own during the lockout is the injury factor. Players aren’t covered by their regular team insurance during these sessions, so if somebody gets hurt, they’re on their own. There are no team trainers or  team doctors at the practices -- nobody.

It certainly has to be worrisome for the players who are taking an enormous risk without pay, and though there were no injuries among the 40 or so Giants players who participated in a workout Tuesday, players and agents haven’t forgotten what could happen if something goes wrong.

"It is dangerous," said Rich (Big Daddy) Salgado, the president of Coastal Advisors, an insurance company for players (via the New York Daily News). "It's dangerous especially if a guy is a free agent and doesn't have a contract. Each player is only covered for a certain amount of money and (to get a payout an injury) has to be catastrophic. It has to be career-ending. It's not just for loss of time. It's not for if you're out for six weeks.

"And it can't make up for everything they'd lose. It can't make up for those numbers."

Though none of the Giants were officially talking to the media, one of the players told the Daily News (off the record) that they had made sure that the players were covered in some way by insurance -- for example,  through COBRA, a family member’s plan or a short-term policy.

And while the Giants have escaped injury so far, the same can’t be said for 49ers WR Michael Crabtree, who had to sit out the second practice for San Francisco’s players Tuesday because of sore feet (this, a day after he made some controversial statements about 49ers QB Alex Smith).

Apparently, the cause of his injury is because the cleats he wore Monday were too new and he hadn’t broken them in yet, a problem compounded by the Fieldturf at San Jose State.

“Everybody's good. Crabtree's all right," WR Josh Morgan told the San Jose Mercury News. "His feelings aren't hurt. Nothing wrong with him. Just his feet were too sore to come out here. That's all it is."

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 12:24 pm

Crabtree on Alex Smith: 'He's the quarterback?'

Posted by Will Brinson

There probably aren't a whole lot of people who are confident that Alex Smith will return as the 49ers starting quarterback in 2011. And that's okay. Even if Jim Harbaugh is on board, fans have reason to question whether or not Smith can succeed.

But you would think that, at the very least, the team's No. 1 wide receiver might be on board with Smith's return. However, that might not be the case based on the conversation Michael Crabtree had with the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows.

Barrows reports on Tuesday that he asked Crabtree if thought "throwing with the quarterback was beneficial toward improving chemistry."

"Who's the quarterback?" Crabtree responded.

Barrows then told him that Smith was.

"He's the quarterback? I'm just asking," Crabtree said. Crabree later clarified his remarks at the practice. Well, kind of.

"I wish I could tell you that [Smith is the quarterback]," Crabtree said. "I know that you're all scratching at it. I wish I could tell you who is going to be the quarterback. I don't know. I don't know.

"Whoever the quarterback is, I'm 100 percent down with it and I'm ready to go. That's it."

Now, bear in mind that this was at a voluntary workout that Smith was kind-of, sort-of leading. And this is kind of a tumultuous time in the NFL with most players really sticking together.

So for Crabtree to almost laugh off (again) the prospect of Smith starting for the 49ers, well, it tells us that if we ever get the players back on the field, we're at the very least going to have some spicy drama by the bay.

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Posted on: June 4, 2011 3:24 pm

HOF RB John Henry Johnson, 81, dies

John Henry Johnson died Friday at the age of 81 (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Hall of Fame RB John Henry Johnson, who made four Pro Bowl teams during his 14-year pro career, died Friday at the age of 81.

As the San Jose Mercury News points out, Johnson teamed with RBs Joe “The Jet” Perry and Hugh McElhenny and QB Y.A. Tittle in San Francisco to form one of the most-impressive offensive backfields, nicknamed “The Million Dollar Backfield,” in league history.

Twice in his career, Johnson rushed for more than 1,000 yards, and he also helped the Lions win a NFL title in 1957.

He played in Canada in 1953, but he moved to San Francisco for the 49ers the next three seasons after that, and later in his career, Johnson played for the Lions, Steelers and Oilers.

"He was a very caring man," John L. Brown, Johnson's nephew, told the paper. "He always came back to the Pittsburg (High School) community and gave back. He also was a great family man who loved his five kids and many grandkids."

Said 49ers owner and co-chairman John York in a release: "I was deeply saddened to hear of John Henry Johnson's passing. He was a good friend, not only to my family and me, but the entire 49ers organization. As a member of ‘The Million Dollar Backfield’ he holds a cherished place in both 49ers and NFL history. His contributions to the game of football will be forever celebrated. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the entire Johnson family."

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: May 25, 2011 9:07 pm

Hot Routes 5.25.11: Mike Kafka's 'next step'

Posted by Will Brinson

Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Mike Kafka told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he's ready to "take that next step" and become the Eagles' official backup. Of course, that presumes that Kevin Kolb is traded. Fortunately, Andy Reid's got his back too. I know that Reid's really good at developing quarterbacks and all, but going from Kolb backing up Vick to Kafka backing up Vick is a significantly different proposition.
  • Is it legal for the younger brother of an NFL offensive coordinator to teach that OC's new quarterback the offense? I mean, it's not, right?

Posted on: May 23, 2011 10:37 am
Edited on: May 23, 2011 10:52 am

Glen Coffee on NFL: 'It ruins a lot of lives'

Posted by Will Brinson

Way back last August, Glen Coffee abruptly retired from the NFL. He eventually told everyone he was pursuing a career in a more faith-based industry, but then managed to get arrested for possession of a firearm before coming back and joining the Premier South Football League.

Whew. That's a pretty busy non-season for Coffee. And he's back in the news again. He sat down with the Sacramento Bee's Matt Barrows for a recent interview and stated that the NFL "ruins lives."

"People just keep asking me [why I left the NFL early], and it's like, 'Ok, why are you asking me that?' And their No. 1 reason - their only reason - is money," Coffee said. "It saddens me, man. If your only focus is money, you're going to be sorely disappointed. A lot of people, they chase money. And when they get the money they think, 'Ok, what now? There's got to be more than what I'm feeling now?' "

"As far as the NFL goes, I have a hard time putting it like this because it sounds kind of harsh, but I feel like it ruins a lot of lives more than anything else."

Coffee's reasoning is that the NFL wrecks lives not because of the physical harm done to the players, but because the people in the NFL are chasing the almighty dollar and whatnot.

Frankly, I disagree. There are PLENTY of occupations where people are chasing the buck: Financial analyst, athlete, poker player, politician, or even sportswriter (just ask Jason Whitlock!) -- all of these professions have people more concerned with money than doing what they enjoy.

In fact, it seems to me that, for the most part, football contains a greater group of people doing what they love, as opposed to doing something that gives them a shot at making tons of money.

The biggest downside of the NFL isn't greed; it's the physical and/or mental damage done to those who play. Barrows asked Coffee about that and Coffee's only real response was, "it does suck that they have to put their bodies through that."

That seems a little short-sighted for a guy with such a supposedly fresh perspective.

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Posted on: May 18, 2011 10:25 am

Sounds like Alex Smith will stay in San Francisco

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Though 49ers QB Alex Smith made his first meeting with the media this offseason an off-the-record session (meaning that he asked reporters, including Comcast Sports Net’s Mindi Bach not to quote him directly), he also made it pretty clear that he expects to return to San Francisco in 2011.

Though he looked pretty much good as gone at the end of last season – it was certainly a mutual feeling between him and his team – and despite the fact San Francisco proclaimed its next QB of the future by drafting Colin Kaepernick in the second round of last month’s NFL draft, Smith said he and new coach Jim Harbaugh are getting along well.

The fact Harbaugh is an offensive-minded head coach – as opposed to the 49ers last two hires, Mike Singletary and Mike Nolan – also plays well in Smith’s mind.

There are also other reasons why Smith’s mindset has changed. Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, gave birth to their first child last week, meaning he’d like to stay put for now, and with the lockout freezing free agency, he hasn’t had a chance to look elsewhere for a new organization anyway.

The 49ers also appear to want him back, which could be why Harbaugh already has presented him with the team’s 2011 playbook, featuring Harbaugh’s West Coast offense terminology.

And now considering the lockout could extend into training camp, which would profoundly effect incoming college players, it makes sense to have a more experienced QB who’s taken plenty of NFL snaps as the team’s starter, rather than a rookie who has shined the past few years in the WAC.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com