Five Super Bowl MVP QBs discuss concussions


Five Super Bowl MVP QBs discuss concussions

SAN FRANCISCO -- Five Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks with Bay Area ties united on stage for a fund-raising event Friday morning.They also put their heads together to discuss and offer solutions on the major crisis surrounding the sport of football.Near the conclusion of the one-hour event, moderator Bob Costas shifted the round-table discussion involving Joe Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Jim Plunkett to the topic of concussions.Rodgers, the reigning NFL most valuable player, consulted Young after sustaining a concussion in 2010. Young never played again after getting knocked unconscious by a hit from Arizona cornerback Aeneas Williams in 1999.Rodgers passed the NFL's protocol for returning to action after a concussion after missing one game and led the Packers to the Super Bowl title.RELATED: Lester Hayes says players knew the score on injuries
Rodgers complimented commissioner Roger Goodell's efforts to punish players for dangerous hits and illegal hits."It's a difficult topic to put your mind around," Rodgers said. "But I know the risks I'm taking, stepping onto the field. I've had a couple of head injuries. Actually, I talked to Steve after the second one because I know he dealt with some similar things."It does start to bring your own mortality to the forefront in your mind, thinking about what your post-career will look like. That being said, I don't think there's a whole lot more we can do. The helmet I started my career with in 2005 is no longer allowed to be worn because of the safety requirements on those helmets is so high now. I feel confident the helmet I'm wearing has kept me from a couple concussions in the last year, especially one hit in particular I took in the Giants playoff game."I think the commissioner has a difficult job, but he's done a good job of making guys who take cheap shots or shots above the neck or below the knee intentionally to injure people, he's fining those guys and suspending them for games. And that's what you have to do."Rodgers echoed a sentiment Plunkett expressed that there isn't a whole lot more Goodell can legislate into the game to make it more safe for those who play."It's just in this era, as opposed to when the three of you (Montana, Young, Plunkett) played, every injury is highlighted more," Rodgers said. "Every little ding to the head is labeled as a concussion. The protocol for concussions cannot be any more difficult to get back on the field. It is incredible the process and the tests you have to go through to get back on the field. So something is being done. It's unfortunate that we've had to go through some years of learning what those steps look like, but I don't think there's a whole lot more that can be done."Costas asked Young if it is practical for defenders to turn the clock back to the earlier days of the game when they were required to wrap up while making tackles."Yeah, I think that's what they're trying to do," Young said. "The things they're trying to legislate out of the game right now is the launching."Young said he has watched highlights of Chicago Bears Hall-of-Fame linebacker Dick Butkus, and what he saw was eye-opening."People always said, 'They're going to change football if they legislate some of these big hits,'" Young said. "Dick Butkus was a tough guy. He tackled with his arms. So it takes away those hits that are most difficult to watch and that injure the head so much. They're trying to make sure that those launching hits are out of the game."Young, the father of two young boys, said he would not object to them playing football -- if it's a sport they wish to pursue."The game is dangerous to the body. Well-coached and well-protected, I think it's a great game," Young said. "And truth is, if my boys wanted to play and I thought they were well-coached and well-protected, then I think there are things that football teaches that are not able to be learned in some places."It's one of the great team games in the history of team games. So I'd love to find a way to wiggle through this and find a way so it's safe enough for people long term to play it and be safe. With Aaron's point about how they're trying to handle the protocol on head injuries, maybe on the other side of this in 10 or 15 years, we've found a game that protects players and still keep it intact."Montana suggested the advances in the equipment have also heightened the dangers of the game."The problem is, the better the equipment gets, the more protected everybody feels and the more violent the game can become because now they feel they can do more -- the collisions can be higher," Montana said."One of the old, old guys says, 'I got the perfect thing: Take the facemasks off. See how many people stick their faces in there then.' That's a pretty good point. It takes a lot of sense in a lot of ways. It takes some of that protection away. Do you want to go that way? It's almost impossible to go backward."Said Plunkett, "I have so many friends or people I've played against just going through a hell of a time at this stage of their lives. I know something's got to be done. Exactly what it is, I'm not sure."While the awareness is greater than ever, so is the force the collisions in today's game. Brady said he is amazed at the size, speed and athleticism of the players entering the NFL."The players now are so big and so fast," Brady said. "The accountability for myself is with myself. I'm making sure I'm doing what I need to do to protect myself and, obviously, my family and I try to educate some teammates on things." Montana, Young, Plunkett, Brady and Rodgers took part Friday morning in "Salute to the Titans," a fundraising event spearheaded by former 49ers All-Pro lineman Harris Barton. The event benefited First Tee of San Francisco, Monterey County and Silicon Valley; and Champion Charities, created by Barton and Ronnie Lott, a non-profit dedicated to helping children and families in need. Champion Charities' primary recipient is UCSF. The organization raises and distributes funds for research of all brain-related diseases and traumatic brain injury. Both of Barton's parents died of brain tumors.

Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent


Cowboys expose 49ers' biggest weakness in bashing: Talent

If there is such a thing as being “due” in sports (and there actually isn’t, so you can probably stop reading now), the San Francisco 49ers had Sunday coming to them.
After all, the anomaly of being the “best winless team in football” based on margin of defeat lasts only so long until the “winless” part trumps the “best” part, because even the Los Angeles Chargers – the previous “best bad team in football” – aren’t the Chargers all the time.
So it was that the Dallas Cowboys exposed every weakness the 49ers have with the simplest thing there is.
The Cowboys did everything they wanted, but only whenever they wanted it, in a 40-10 dope-slapping that could actually have been worse than it was. The 49er offense was properly stymied (again), gaining only 290 yards (4.5 yards per play) and the defense was thoroughly Elliotted (as in Ezekiel-ed, who averaged 8.1 yards in his 27 touches). San Francisco’s warts were rubbed until they glowed, and if not for the fact that head coach Kyle Shanahan already knew where they were, he’d have been shocked to see how visible they were.
And therein lies the takeaway from another day at Not-So-Great-America. It turns out that the 49ers weren’t very good at much of anything before Sunday except just how far away they are from what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch believe is their destiny. C.J.  Beathard remained the rookie quarterback he is, and Carlos Hyde's hard-won 68 rushing yards led to no scores. Indeed, San Francisco's only touchdown came on a four-yard improv sprint from Beathard, who is by no means a running quarterback except in abject flight.

Next week in Philadelphia figures to be no less grisly, if you’re waiting for that magic moment when “0” becomes “1.” That is, of course, unless Washington exposes the Eagles as less than what they seem, which is very often the case in the new parity-gripped NFL.

But there are subsequent get-well games at home against Arizona and then at New York against the Giants the week after, so whatever dreams you might have about them running the table backwards and getting the first overall pick in the draft are still light years from realization.
This is, however, another healthy reminder that the job to be done is at least two more years in the undoing before the doing can actually begin. Not that the players or coaches needed another lesson, mind you – they know.
But maybe you needed it, just to keep your delusions in check. Maybe the people who were “due” were all of you.
But that’s unfair, too. You didn’t undo this franchise. All you did was believe, and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long you know there will be more days like this before your team starts handing out the 40-10’s.
In the meantime, there is beer.

Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys


Three things you need to know from 49ers' 40-10 loss vs Cowboys

SANTA CLARA -- Three things you need to know about the 49ers’ 40-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 on Sunday:

1. A major step backward
So much for the 49ers’ somewhat-impressive streak of close losses.

There was nothing encouraging about what transpired in the 49ers' worst loss at Levi’s Stadium. It was also the franchise's worst home loss since Mike Singletary's team absorbed a 45-10 thumping against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 11, 2009.

Was there anything positive to take from this game?

“No, not right now,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “It was disappointing. I think all three phases, players and coaches, we’ve got to play better than that, a lot better to give ourselves a chance to win.”

The competitive nature of the 49ers’ past five games was one thing. But with a big home loss on such an emotional day, it is fair to say that the honeymoon is over for Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The 49ers looked like a team devoid of any leadership, and brings more scrutiny onto the organization’s decision last week to release linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

Now, the 49ers face a crossroads. With another cross-country trip ahead, the 49ers have to regroup in a hurry in order to avoid another embarrassing blowout against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Beathard’s first start
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard certainly was not the reason the 49ers got blown out. In his first NFL start, he showed a lot of toughness, which was to be expected. He was sacked five times. But most of those sacks could have been avoided. He has to get rid of the ball quicker, especially on three-step drops.

Beathard also showed some promise, too. He let the ball fly deep for Marquise Goodwin, who caught four passes for 80 yards. Beathard completed 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards.

Beathard accounted for the 49ers’ only touchdown with a 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. There seems to be little doubt it was in the best interest of the organization to begin evaluating what it has for the future with the permanent switch from Brian Hoyer to Beathard.

3. Dwight Clark’s Day
The 49ers, of course, did nothing to evoke any memories of the great teams on which Dwight Clark played. Well, they did look a lot like Clark’s first team with the 49ers.

The 49ers of 1979 lost their first seven games of the season. This year’s team matched that start for the worst beginning to a season in franchise history.

More than 35 of Clark’s teammates off the 1981 Super Bowl team were in attendance to honor a pay tribute to Clark, who is battling ALS. Now in a wheelchair and considerably lighter, Clark delivered some poignant remarks at halftime.

Clark, 60, told his old teammate, Keena Turner, who works as vice president of football affairs, that all he wanted was to see some of his old teammates.

“And the 49ers heard that and flew all these players in, so I could see them one more time,” Clark said.