JaCorey Shepherd flattered by Chip Kelly's loyalty

JaCorey Shepherd flattered by Chip Kelly's loyalty

SANTA CLARA – JaCorey Shepherd, a sixth-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago, was on pace to be the team’s main nickel back as a rookie.

After tearing his ACL in training camp, he never suited up for the Eagles. However, Shepherd is now playing for the man who drafted him.

After 49ers nickel back Chris Davis sustained a torn ACL in Week 4, Chip Kelly made the call to Shepherd, whom the Eagles had released from their practice squad two weeks earlier.

“It was probably one of the most-happy days of my life when he called,” Shepherd said.

Said Kelly, “He was on track to become a starter for us and we thought very, very highly of him when we were there and then all of a sudden when we lost Chris Davis and they’re talking about nickels available out there. When that name, one of the first names that came up and said I had experience with him. I think we jumped at the chance.”

Shepherd said it meant a lot to him for Kelly to want to bring him to the 49ers.

“It showed, for one, he was paying attention and keeping an eye on me, even though he wasn’t there,” Shepherd said. “It was a lot of loyalty to me. Bringing me in, drafting me, tearing my ACL, I was still around. He made sure I stayed in-tune.”

Shepherd returned kicks his final two years at Kansas. He began his college career as a wide receiver, catching 15 passes 252 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman before being converted to defensive back.

“I played offense pretty much my whole life until I moved to corner in college,” Shepherd said. “Getting the ball in my hands and what I do when I get the ball in my hands is not surprising to me. I was doing it before I switched positions.”

Shepherd made his first impact with the 49ers on Sunday as a kick returner. He averaged 34.7 yards on three kickoff returns in the 49ers’ 41-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

“I thought he’d be a great fit,” Kelly said. “You love his makeup, you love his approach to the game. Very smart, very intelligent football player. We felt like we got a really good player and I think he’s starting to show that from a special-teams standpoint and as we get him integrated in the secondary.

“The kick-return stuff, we knew he did in college, but we had Darren Sproles and a couple other guys. So we weren’t really using him as a kick returner in Philly. That’s kind of a bonus I think. But it certainly was very productive for us this past Sunday.”

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.