John Lynch clarifies 'divisive' comment on anthem protests

John Lynch clarifies 'divisive' comment on anthem protests

SANTA CLARA – John Lynch, the 49ers’ general manager, used a word Wednesday while stating his opinion on national anthem protests that could only be described as divisive.

That word that Lynch said he regrets using was “divisive.”

Lynch clarified his stance Friday morning on an appearance on KNBR, the flagship station of the 49ers.

“If I could take one thing back, I would have changed that word, because of the negative connotation," Lynch said. "But I was really trying to make the point that our game should be a beacon for what can be."

During his initial comment two days earlier during a press conference at Levi's Stadium, Lynch spoke about football's role in bringing together individuals from all backgrounds:

”I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of culture in terms of the way it should be. You strive for a common goal and you have unity. And I think this game brings people together. So, I think personally, when I see that, I think that’s divisive. …”

The movement started a year ago with then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to social inequality and police brutality against minorities.

Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett has been the most outspoken in carrying on Kaepernick’s protest this summer.

There is added attention on protests in light of the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which featured white supremacists and President Trump’s statement that there was blame to be shared on “both sides."

Philadelphia safety Malcolm Jenkins raised a fist on the sideline Thursday night. Teammate Chris Long, who is white and attended the University of Virginia, put his arm around Jenkins. Lynch referenced the scene on the Eagles sideline during his interview with Brian Murphy of the KNBR Morning Show.

"I'm glad you brought this up because I'm having, for the last couple of days, a lot of thought, a lot of waking up in the middle of the night thinking about what I said and how people perceive that," Lynch said.

"You know, when I saw that picture of Chris Long and Malcolm Jenkins, I think that's exactly what I was speaking to and what I think is so great about football, of how I think our society can be and how it should be, of people coming together."

Lynch said he was at his family’s home in San Diego and with his 10-year-old daughter when the unrest was unfolding in Charlottesville.

“It’s sad, it’s disgusting, it’s unbelievable that these things still exist,” Lynch said. “So I want to go a step further -- not only do I respect, but I understand the motivations of these players that are trying to do something about it. I want to be very clear with that, that’s where my heart is.”

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.