49ers win Humanitarian Award


49ers win Humanitarian Award

The 49ers were recognized as ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year during an awards ceremony Tuesday evening in Los Angeles.

Co-chair Dr. John York accepted the honor on behalf of the organization. Safety Eric Reid, who is a regular participant in the organization’s community programs and events, was among the group that represented the 49ers for the announcement.

“Every Sunday, the 49ers take the field to win. The other 349 days of the year, we want to be the best football team and the best community citizens,” York said. “Through the 49ers Foundation’s efforts to keep kids ‘Safe, On Track, and In School,’ we inspire Bay Area children to succeed in life using sports as a pathway.”

The 49ers were named as finalists for the award the past two years.

The Humanitarian Team of the Year Award honors a sports team that demonstrates how teamwork between athletes and their team’s community relations efforts or foundations can create a positive impact on a community or cause. The 49ers will receive a $100,000 grant to be directed towards a charity that supports the organization’s humanitarian efforts.

The 49ers donated more than 1,200 hours of volunteer time to 75 community events and committed $4 million to local non-profits in 2016.

Among the organization’s off-the-field accomplishments:

--The 49ers’ STEM Leadership Institute is a six-year curriculum that begins in 7th grade, continues through high school, and seeks to prepare students with high academic potential in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). During the 2016-2017 school year, over 40,000 hours of education have been provided, including integrated and open lab hours, tutoring, and enrichment events. Of the 60 students in the 2020 class, 50% have 4.0 GPAs and the average GPA is 3.81.

--The 49ers’ STEAM Education Program, which opened in 2014, provides informal learning experiences for K-8 students through its program that teaches standards-aligned (Common Core and Next Generation Science) lessons using the STEAM principles of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Housed within the Denise DeBartolo York Education Center at Levi’s Stadium, the program has reached over 150,000 participants since inception – free of charge – with over 50 percent of students coming from Title I designated schools.

--The team’s youth efforts additionally translate on the field, where the team promotes football-focused physical activity for boys and girls through the 49ers Youth Football Program. The program, experienced by more than 31,000 participants as part of 138 events held in partnership with the NFL’s “Play 60” initiative in 2016, encourages children to get outside and play for 60 minutes each day.

--In September, the 49ers announced a pledge from the organization's charitable arm, the 49ers Foundation, matching match then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick's commitment of $1 million, to two Bay Area charities that address social issues in collaboration with law enforcement.

49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future


49ers set aside cap space with an eye to the future

The first wave of free agency is over, and the 49ers struck quickly.

The club identified two players coach Kyle Shanahan tabbed as fits for his offense and they paid the money it took to get them.

General manager John Lynch said there were five teams seriously interested in free-agent running back Jerick McKinnon. Even more teams were going after center Weston Richburg, he said.

That drove up the prices on McKinnon and Richburg to the point that they rank behind only quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($37 million) as taking up the most cap space among the 72 players currently under contract to the 49ers.

McKinnon and Richburg account for $10.5 million and $9.26 million, respectively, on the 49ers' salary cap. Veteran cornerback Richard Sherman's deal takes up $6.175 million on the 49ers' cap this season.

The big spending to attract free agents to the team is likely over. The 49ers have $45.1 million in cap space, according to the NFL Players Association. That figure does not include a projected $8.3 million to sign their 2018 rookie class, according to overthecap.com.

The major spending for this offseason is over because the 49ers have apparently looked to the future and set aside cap space with the idea of retaining some of their own players whose contracts are winding down.

The first decisions for the future must occur by May 3, the deadline for picking up the fifth-year options on first-round picks from the 2015 draft. The 49ers have decisions to make on defensive lineman Arik Armstread and left guard Laken Tomlinson, who was acquired from Detroit in a trade just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season.

It is still unclear how or if Armstead’s skills fit into the 49ers’ defense. He opened last season at the team's pass-rush end before moving to the "big end," which also appears to be first-round pick Solomon Thomas' best position.

Tomlinson showed reasons for the 49ers to be optimistic about his future as his play got better as he acclimated to the offense. Among the guards already on the 49ers’ roster, Tomlinson appears to be the most likely to be a starter in 2018.

Presumptive starting safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. Ward’s fifth-year option deal of one-year, $8.526 million became fully guaranteed last Wednesday. But in order for the 49ers to make a multi-year commitment, Ward would likely have to prove he can remain healthy and available for a full season.

DeForest Buckner is likely the target for the next blockbuster contract extension. Buckner has emerged as one of the top young defensive linemen in the league. Next offseason will be the first time the 49ers are permitted to negotiate a multi-year extension with him.

With a scarcity of offensive linemen available in the draft and free agency, right tackle Trent Brown could be set to cash in with an enormous deal next offseason – either with the 49ers or some other team.

DL Arik Armstead
FS Jimmie Ward
SS Jaquiski Tartt
RT Trent Brown
LB Eli Harold
LG Laken Tomlinson
K Robbie Gould
P Bradley Pinion

DL DeForest Buckner
LT Joe Staley
OG Joshua Garnett
DL Ronald Blair
TE Garrett Celek
RB Matt Breida (RFA)
WR Kendrick Bourne (RFA)

Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in


Deepest position in the NFL Draft? 49ers VP of Player Personnel weighs in

The 49ers concluded the first wave of the free-agent signing period with the signings of players to fill the team’s biggest offseason needs.

--Cornerback. Aqib Talib would have been the answer in a trade with the Denver Broncos, but he wanted to play elsewhere. Instead, the 49ers signed veteran Richard Sherman, whom the Seattle Seahawks cut a day earlier.

--Interior offensive line. Center Weston Richburg was the player the team had rated as their top target in free agency, and they signed him to a lucrative five-year deal.

--Running back. The team decided Jerick McKinnon was a better fit than Carlos Hyde. They wrapped him up with a four-year contract.

--Edge rusher. Lacking many options in free agency, the 49ers signed Jeremiah Attaochu to a one-year contract in hopes he will earn a spot on the team and make a contribution at the “Leo” position.

The 49ers can still use more help at a number of different positions, including cornerback, wide receiver, offensive line, linebacker and edge rusher. While the 49ers might add some role players in the second wave of free agency, most of the major acquisitions at this point are likely to come in the draft.

On the 49ers Insider Podcast, 49ers vice president of player personnel Adam Peters addressed what positions he believes are strong in this year’s draft.

“I think running backs, absolutely. It’s a deep position,” Peters said. “Quarterbacks at the top is deeper than it was last year. Secondary, corners, it’s not deeper than it was last year, but it’s a strong class of corners. Those are the main ones. The offensive line class is a little better than last year, too.”

The 49ers got major contributions from their rookie class last season. Tight end George Kittle, receiver Trent Taylor, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Matt Breida, defensive lineman Solomom Thomas, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Adrian Colbert each played more than 300 snaps.

The 49ers feel good about Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, as a starter with Sherman on the other side. Peters said a lot of the team’s rookies played larger roles than expected in 2017, but Witherspoon might have been at the top of the list.

“I don’t think he was active for the first four games,” Peters said of Witherspoon. “And he ended up playing at a high level at the end. Really driven, conscientious player who wants to be great. 

"We were lucky we got a chance to play a lot of rookies because that’ll help us moving forward.”