Dwight Clark recalls '80s NFL work stoppages


Dwight Clark recalls '80s NFL work stoppages

March 28, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comPlayers representing every position on the 49ers gathered on their own at Canada College in Redwood City. While their work had temporarily come to a halt, their preparations for the football season continued."We had organized practices, 7-on-7, with no pads, of course," said legendary 49ers receiver Dwight Clark, now 54. "We were running to stay in shape and we'd run routes vs. DBs and linebackers."
That was 1987 when the NFL players went on strike after two games. More than two decades later, there is another labor dispute at the highest level of professional football.Things are different now. The owners have imposed a lockout, but there is still plenty of time for the sides to avert the cancelation of games.RELATED: NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement Report page
In a typical offseason, the 49ers would be entering their third week of the offseason conditioning program under new coach Jim Harbaugh. Their first scheduled minicamp is a couple weeks away.VIDEO: Jim Harbaugh from the NFL Coaches Breakfast
During this work stoppage, players are not allowed at the 49ers' practice facility in Santa Clara. Coaches are prohibited from having any contact with the players until the lockout comes to an end.The 49ers players are scattered around the country. But some of them are getting together to work out on their own in the Bay Area and Atlanta. Other players are taking part in workouts at Athletes' Performance facilities in Los Angeles and Phoenix.NEWS: Takeo Spikes -- scattered 49ers remain unitedIn '87, while most of the 49ers remained in the Bay Area, the veteran-laden team was able to conduct practices on their own because everyone knew the systems that had been in place for years under coach Bill Walsh.
In contrast, with the 49ers' new coaching staff and 16 players scheduled for free agency, it's nearly impossible for the current 49ers to do much more than get together in small groups to lift, run and wait for the lockout to end.
"We stayed in good shape," Clark said. "We kept running our same plays. The intensity wasn't as great with no coaches watching, but we worked hard."During Clark's nine NFL seasons as a wide receiver, the league endured two strikes. In 1987, NFL teams recruited and signed replacement players for three games."It was a difficult and complicated time," Clark said. "It was very tough to figure out what was the right thing to do."Clark had undergone three offseason knee surgeries. Walsh, who discovered the little-known receiver out of Clemson and selected him in the 10th round of the 1979 draft, had already convinced Clark that 1987 would be his final NFL season. As much as Clark says he wanted to remain loyal to the union, there were a number of other factors he weighed during the first two weeks of the strike.Ultimately, Clark decided to be one of the nearly 150 players around the NFL to return to work. Joe Montana and Roger Craig were also among the 12 players from the 49ers to cross the picket line."The core of the team was really close to Eddie," Clark said of then-49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo. "He was more than an owner to us. He was a personal friend. He was so good and so generous to us, so to go out on strike was a tough decision for several reasons. I felt like we were striking against someone who had only done great things for us."And in the final year of his career, Clark also knew that every week he did not play was costing him 32,500 that he would never be able to regain. Clark eventually worked as an executive with the 49ers and Cleveland Browns. He now lives in San Jose, where he sells health insurance and works as a marketing consultant for the 49ers."Things may be stronger now with the players," Clark said. "But at that time, the union wasn't very strong. They couldn't deliver what they set out to do in 1982."That does not mean it was easy, though. Clark said the decision to break ranks gave him ulcers. When he joined the replacement players in the 49ers' locker room, he was warmly received and signed many autographs. But when the strike ended and all the 49ers players returned a week later, there was palpable tension."There were some hard feelings from a few of the guys," Clark said. "Ronnie (Lott) is the ultimate team guy. He always puts the team first. He was very upset we'd come in. He and I are great friends now, so eventually those feelings went by the wayside."The NFL players previously went on strike in 1982. Seven regular-season games were canceled, and the 49ers finished with a 3-6 record and missed the playoffs for the only time in a 10-year stretch.NEWS: NFL headlines
"That was pretty rough because that was the year after we won the Super Bowl and everyone wanted to get back there playing," Clark said. "We were out 57 days. So a lot of us in '87 had already been through that."In 1982, we stayed out and whole time. So we already knew in '87 what it felt like. It didn't help that whatever we were striking for in '82, we didn't get."The union decertified in 1989 after losing the 1987 strike. After the players won a court ruling years later, a new collective bargaining agreement was approved in 1993. The players were awarded unrestricted free agency, as well as improved pension and health benefits.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals


Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?


49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.