49ers

John Lynch: There's a lot to like in 2017 QB draft class

John Lynch: There's a lot to like in 2017 QB draft class

INDIANAPOLIS – The 49ers will meet with at least the top four quarterback draft prospects this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Although the draft is two months away, 49ers general manager John Lynch has already been impressed with what he has seen. The 49ers' top two picks are set for No. 2 and No. 34 overall.

“I think these guys are somewhat getting a bad rap,” Lynch said Thursday. “You turn on the film, and there’s a lot to like.”

The 49ers met Wednesday night with Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer. By the time the combine concludes, the 49ers will also have held 15-minute interviews with North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Clemon’s Deshaun Watson and Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes.

“This whole thing is not about an interview, but if you were grading him on that alone, he blew the doors off,” Lynch said of Kizer. “He’s an impressive young man. His film is very impressive.

“I think the same can be said for Deshaun Watson. You look what he’s done, just putting a team on his shoulders and taking down a great champion. Trubisky, Mahomes, I think it’s a very talented draft class at that position. We’re very excited about those guys. I don’t think you need to be too transparent to realize that’s a position we’re looking at. We don’t have any. That’s a position that’s a big focal point of our preparation and this week is a big part of that.”

Kizer (6 foot 4¼) was the tallest of the quarterbacks invited to the combine. Watson checked in 6-2½. Trubisky checked in over the 6-2 1/8.

“He measured over 6-2, so he made himself some money today, I promise you,” Lynch said of Trubisky.

“He grows on you. The more you watch him, the more you like him.”

Mahomes was the shortest of the quarterbacks at 6-2.

“He’s a guy the film is pretty special,” Lynch said. “We’re excited to watch more and learn more about him.”

Watson has the most decorated college career, leading Clemson to the victory over Alabama in the national championship game. Lynch said he spent time around Watson during Super Bowl week in Houston.

“There are certain guys who just carry themselves differently and have a presence about him,” Lynch said. “I’d put him in that category in the brief time you could just see there’s a confidence and an aura that he carries himself with is pretty special.”

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

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USATSI/AP

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

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AP

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.