49ers rookie Blair prepared to play more with Buckner out

49ers rookie Blair prepared to play more with Buckner out

Rookie 49ers defensive lineman Ronald Blair has been used primarily as a nickel pass-rusher through four games. He prepared this week for more playing time with DeForest Buckner out of the lineup with a foot injury.

“I prepare every week like I’m going to get 100 reps,” Blair said. “I just want to make sure I know everything that’s coming at me. We have a pretty solid D-line group, so we have a next-man up mentality. It’s unfortunate that he’s hurt.”

Blair, a fifth-round draft pick from Appalachian State, said he is comfortable lining up at any number of positions along the defensive line, including standing up as an outside pass-rusher.

“We go through all the different techniques throughout practice,” Blair said. “We want to make sure that everybody knows every position so there’s no fall-off in case something were to happen.”

Something did happen at the end of the 49ers’ 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys when Buckner, the team’s No. 7 overall pick, went down with an injury. The 49ers are likely to include veteran Tony Jerod-Eddie among their 46 active players for Thursday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals to help compensate for Buckner's loss.

And Blair could see an increased role after playing just seven snaps against the Cowboys. He shared a sack with nickel back Chris Davis on a play in which Jaquiski Tartt was penalized for unnecessary roughness. (Because the foul was after the play, the sack still counted.)

The 49ers will face a different style of quarterback, with Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton not providing the same kind of moving target the team faced the past three games against Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott.

“It changes up our game plan a little bit, but at the same time we have to account for things beside his running ability,” Blair said of Stanton. “We just know because the quarterback might not run as much, that doesn’t mean he can’t do other things well. So we’re making sure we’re well-prepared on a short week.”

Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter


Terrell Owens selects former 49ers coach as his Hall of Fame presenter

Terrell Owens has selected former 49ers special teams and wide receivers coach George Stewart as his presenter into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He knew what to get out of me,” Owens told the Hall of Fame.

“He knows who I am. To know who Terrell Owens is, you have to spend some time with him. . . George Stewart became a father figure to me.”

Owens was elected into the Hall of Fame in February. He will enter the Hall of Fame in a class that also includes wide receiver Randy Moss, linebackers Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and Robert Brazile, safety Brian Dawkins, guard Jerry Kramer, and contributor Bobby Beathard.

Owens played special teams under Stewart’s direction as a rookie after coming to the 49ers in 1996.

From 2000 to ’02, Stewart worked as the 49ers’ wide receivers coach. Owens was selected to three consecutive All-Pro teams and Pro Bowls during that time. Owens ranks No. 2 all time behind Jerry Rice with 15,934 receiving yards. He is third all-time with 153 receiving touchdowns.

Stewart is set to enter his 30th NFL season as an assistant coach and his second as special-teams coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Class of 2018 will be enshrined inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Saturday, Aug. 4.

Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear


Sherman makes his concern over Reid's free-agency status loud and clear

Safety Eric Reid, who has 69 career starts and one Pro Bowl appearance in his five-year NFL career, remains available on the open market more than a week after the opening of free agency.

Reid has received no reported interest from NFL teams in what has been an unusually soft market for free-agent safeties. But, with Reid, there is another variable that could be playing a factor.

Reid was at the forefront of the social activism that has been a major storyline in the NFL since the beginning of the 2016 season. Reid and former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the playing of the national anthem in protest of racial inequality in America.

Reid has remained outspoken and has taken a knee as a way to “make people uncomfortable about the issues.” Reid has been clear his protest has nothing to do with the flag or the anthem.

“The anthem is just a vehicle to get us to have those conversations,” Reid told NBC Sports Bay Area last season. “It’s the platform we have. It’s the only time we have to get the eyeballs on us to do that. If we just did locker-room talks afterward, nobody would even know. Strategically, this is the only way we thought we could do it.”

Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, who signed a three-year contract with the 49ers on March 10, had been the Seattle Seahawks’ player representative. He is a vice president of the NFL Players Association. Reid was the 49ers’ union representative.

Sherman said he is keeping a close eye on Reid’s situation.

“We are concerned, because he played at a high level for just about every year that he’s played in this league,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “He’s made enough plays to be signed with a team and to make his money. He deserves his money. Safeties make a certain amount. I would think he’s top-five, top-10 safeties in this league, so he deserves to be paid accordingly.

“So there is concern there, because you would think a player of his caliber and his quality would be picked up by now. I think great teams are still looking and people are still looking for players. I’m praying that he gets picked up. But if he doesn’t, then I think there will be a conversation with the league office and the union on potential league action.”

Kaepernick never got so much as an opportunity to compete for an NFL roster spot during training camp last season. Could Reid, 26, be heading for the same fate?

Reid addressed the issue last week on social media:

“The notion that I can be a great signing for your team for cheap, not because of my skill set but because I’ve protested systemic oppression, is ludicrous. If you think is, then your mindset is part of the problem too.”

The 49ers have not placed a priority on re-signing Reid. The club already has potential starting safeties Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert under contract for the upcoming season.

Reid, whom the 49ers traded up to select with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has 10 career interceptions. He appeared to thrive last season in run support as a safety who played closer to the line of scrimmage.