49ers

Has Brees received a pass for Bountygate?

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Has Brees received a pass for Bountygate?

Sean Pamphilon, who released audio of the Saints discussing a bounty program, joined CSN for his first TV interview since the scandal broke and explains why Drew Brees was not an innocent bystander.

Dave Feldman: What were you doing in the Saints meeting roomin the first place when you had the option of shooting that video? Sean Pamphilon: I was workingon a documentary at the time about Steve Gleason who was a special teamsstandout for the Saints. And I'd been following him for the better part of theyear as part of the project that we began working on and probably looking atcompleting it within the next three or four months, so I had access to theSaints for the better part of the year probably on about a half dozen occasions.And that was the first time I was ever in a defensive meeting. I'd shot someteam meetings a few times before the game, but that was the first time I was ina meeting of that nature.DF: When you were filming it you heard what Greg Williamssaid about getting the body, getting the head, then you get the body andhearing all that were you shocked, were you surprised, or did it not even throwyou?SP: At the time I wasshooting two cameras because I was doing it all myself and because of that Iheard the repetitive line "Kill the head and the body will die," andat first I thought he was speaking metaphorically -- take out the top player onthe other team and you neutralize their offense...so he was talking about FrankGore. But because I wasn't totally dialed into him and I was looking throughviewfinders, I didn't understand the gravity of what was going on and also theBountygate program was directly related to the Saints. I knew that once hementioned that he was going for Kyle Williams' head specifically and alsotargeting Alex Smith's chin but he was talking about knockout shots and thatwas something I had every intention of discussing in my film "The UnitedStates of Football." I wasn't going to name Greg Williams, but I was goingto reference the fact that I was witness to this. It was when the story brokewhen the National Football League put the information out there that I wentback with my film partner and we listened to it and listening to it versusshooting it was a whole different experience for me, once I actually heard it Itried in earnest to put this out and have the people I was working with endorseit.DF: When you found out what you had and decided to put itout, I understand you had a unique reaction from Drew Brees. What did he tellyou?SP: Drew Brees was actually part of it. The daybefore the audio became public Scott Fujita contacted me and I was veryinterested in being an advocate for players so Scott Fujita -- very big onhealth and safety -- his personal stance was he was very much in favor ofreleasing this audio as we discussed in the previous month. Drew Brees wasinvolved because Steve Gleason thought it was important that Drew Brees was onboard as a representative of the Saints. So during that time Scott and Drew I wastold were involved and in favor of it. It was also my understanding that Stevewas, so when I released it to Yahoo! Sports through Mike Silver it was myunderstanding that we were all working in unison. What happened was later on afew hours before the audio actually came out they wanted to vet my writing theessay that I was putting out with it and that's where we had the problem -- thefallout -- and that's where people got the erroneous notion that I did thismyself. I was actually directed towards it, it was an action I wanted totake and I thought we were all in conjunction with it. Brees tried to controlthe message and was actively involved. He wanted to explain what it meant tothe American public what a whack hit was. He wanted to put it in context. Sothat's why he was trying to get involved and control what I was writing.DF: So Brees was okay with the releasing of the audio, buthe wanted to put his own narrative to explain it?SP: Exactly. He was absolutely in conjunction inworking with us. He left me a voice mail that's on my website onseanpamphilon.com. He left me a voice mail of where he stated that we just wantto see the writing before it hits the wire, before it comes out and is madepublic. And that's one of the things I haven't quite understood in terms of theaftermath of this that people have given him a pass on that. He was involved,he continually denied that the program even exists. Well if the program doesn'texist, how can you define a whack hit if you don't know what it is? So that's aquestion that other people should be asking Drew Brees. Especially the nationalNFL media. I'd be interested to see if they're going to broach that topic withhim.DF: After you found out what you had, Sean, did you ask someof the players how common this was, and would any of the players speak with you?SP: I didn't speak to theplayers on the Saints about it. Former Saints player Scott Fujita told me thatthis was something that he'd heard since he was eight years old. And that washonestly one of the reasons why I wanted to make that audio public in shooting "TheUnited States of Football" over a three-year period. Because I'd beencovering this issue for three years, I heard that at every single level someform of that speech, from peewee all the way up till junior high school to highschool and I just don't think that human beings should ask other human beingsto do that to each other. And I've been a lifelong football fan since I wasseven. But there was a line that got crossed, and I felt it was important thatpeople understood it, and we can put a stop to it.DF: What has been the reaction from the league? Have youreceived any threats or negative feedback from the league or fans? What hasbeen your response to this or your reaction?SP: The league contacted me afterward and wantedme to voluntarily give them the footage. And my feeling was that I don't workfor them so that wasn't gonna happen. But what happened was that they startedpublishing that I secretly taped the information. They started putting outerroneous information on me, trying to discredit me. So at that point I went tothe National Football League in New York and I brought them the information and I askedthem specifically to stop putting out information that disparaged me thatwasn't true. And the fact is that what I witnessed is a felony in any otherbusiness and for whatever reason because it's in the context of football forsome people it's okay, and it's not okay. So I knew that when I released thisaudio it was gonna be an issue for me and I was gonna take a lot of flak, buthopefully in the process of doing that, we can raise some awareness, becausethere are currently over 3000 players in the NFL and they're suing the NFLbecause they were not told of the ramifications of head trauma. So I'm in aroom with a man who's demanding it. And by any of stretch of anyone'simagination, that's not a decent thing to be doing.

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

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USATSI

What rookie CB Ahkello Witherspoon did to earn role in 49ers' defense

SANTA CLARA – Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon did not win the right to suit up for the 49ers’ first four games. Behind the scenes, he made it his mission to earn a contributing role.

“He really started to get better with his coordination with his feet from the bump-and-run coverage and from playing ‘off.’ There’s always a light that goes on,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “And we felt that for a couple weeks from Ahkello. Once he did that, he definitely earned the right to be out there.”

The plan was for Witherspoon to rotate into the action and share time with starters Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson. But he played just six snaps on Oct. 8 against Indianapolis before sustaining a concussion. Witherspoon returned to action last week and played 34 of the 49ers’ 74 snaps last week at Washington. He showed enough to coninue getting significant playing time.

“He’s earned the right to play,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said. “He works his tail off in practice. He’s so deliberate in his approach. Whether it was scout team, whether it was team reps, whether it was walk-through, it didn’t matter.”

Witherspoon, the 49ers’ third-round draft pick at No. 66 overall, had a pedestrian training camp. Taking his lumps in August showed him what he needed to do to get into real games in October.

“I really turned up my focus, my intent every day in practice,” Witherspoon said. “What I did in camp wasn’t good enough to be a starting corner in this league, and that’s what I learned.

“I really focused on being aware of what it takes. That’s something I implemented these last four weeks -- that every day focus and competing on every single ball, and taking the mindset that no ball’s caught on me. I think that’s really helped my game, and helped these coaches trust me, as well.”

Witherspoon expected Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins to attack him. But of the 25 plays he was in coverage last week, Witherspoon saw only three passes come his way. He surrendered two receptions for 33 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

“Just being a rookie, I thought it was going to come, where they were going to be taking that one shot,” Witherspoon said. “I kept waiting for it to happen, but it didn’t happen. Going up against a smart quarterback, I know he saw me out there.

“There were a few times he looked my way in coverage. I wasn’t perfect in coverage, but I think he was looking. And I thought I did a good job.”

Witherspoon (6 foot 3, 195 pounds) is comfortable lining up on either side of the field, which he did during his college career at Colorado. He said he has not put on much weight but he has added more muscle, which has allowed him a better chance to compete physically against bigger NFL receivers.

Witherspoon fully expects to be challenged on Sunday when he is expected to see considerable playing time against the Dallas Cowboys at Levi’s Stadium. Witherspoon figures Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be paying particularly close attention any time Dez Bryant lines up on his side of the field.

“They’re going to be looking at the ‘rook,’ ” Witherspoon said.

Said Shanahan, “They’re going to try to do that with all our DBs, so I don’t think it even matters who’s out there. They’re going to attack when we’re in single safety, which we are the majority of the time. They’re going to go outside and keep going out there until you stop them.”

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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Kyle Shanahan's full sit-down interview with Matt Maiocco on "49ers Game Plan," which is scheduled to air Saturday at 9 p.m. on NBC Bay Area (Ch. 3).

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

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AP

49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon handed hefty fine

The NFL fined 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon $24,309 for unnecessary roughness in last week’s game against Washington.

Garçon, who was not penalized on the play, lowered his helmet and struck Washington safety Montae Nicholson at the end of an 8-yard pass reception in the second quarter.

In 2013, the NFL passed a rule that bans the ball carrier from initiating contact with the crown of his helmet in the open field.

Nicholson’s helmet flew off and he remained on the ground for a couple of minutes. He was evaluated for a possible concussion and shoulder injury. However, Nicholson was cleared and he returned to action.

After the play, Garçon and Washington safety D.J. Swearinger exchanged words, and Swearinger took a swipe at Garçon’s facemask. Swearinger was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The NFL fined Swearinger $9,115 for unnecessary roughness.