Kaepernick: Support ranged from Atlanta to Buffalo

Kaepernick: Support ranged from Atlanta to Buffalo

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers on Sunday played their final game outside of California.

The team traveled to all corners of the United States, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick said he received different receptions to his protest of racial inequalities in different regions.

“I think that’s something to me that was very evident depending on where we’re playing,” Kaepernick said on Tuesday.

He said he received as much support Sunday in Atlanta as any place the 49ers have played outside of Levi's Stadium.

“Atlanta was somewhere where I had a lot of support, a lot of people saying they agree with what I’m doing, support it and are happy that I did it and to keep going and to stay strong," Kaepernick said.

“And there’s other places where the fans don’t agree as much. Buffalo, in particular, was one where that was very evident. So it shows the different cultures and different beliefs throughout this country and it also makes it very evident that there’s a difference in perspective between white America and black America.”

Kaepernick began his protest during the exhibition season by sitting on the team’s bench during the national anthem. In the final exhibition game in San Diego and for each of the 49ers’ 14 regular-season games, Kaepernick has taken a knee during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

The 49ers’ travels have taken the team to Charlotte, Seattle, Buffalo, Arizona, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta. The team concludes its season at Los Angeles on Saturday, then back at Levi’s Stadium for the Jan. 1 finale against the Seahawks.

Kaepernick said he received encouragement during the 49ers’ stay at the team hotel in the Buckhead region of Atlanta.

“I don’t move around too much when we’re there, but, as far as the hotel staff, the people that are around, a lot of support and a lot of people making sure they went out of their way to say that they did support it, which means a lot,” Kaepernick said. “I hope those people and people that support it use their voices more and more and speak out more and more to try to help create change.”

Buffalo was at the other end of the spectrum, Kaepernick said.

“I think volume, what I heard, things that I saw after the fact as far as in the parking lot, T-shirts, all of those things,” he said. “It was very evident that this was something that they don’t agree with, which to me I don’t understand.”

When asked what kind of affect the reactions he received would have on his future work at the community level, Kaepernick said, “I want to go where people truly want to create change and that’s somewhere that change definitely does need to be created, but I think there are better places for this to be initiated and grow from there.”

Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season


Frank Gore returns home for his 14th NFL season

Frank Gore is returning home to, in all likelihood, finish his professional football career.

Gore, 34, signed a one-year contract to enter his 14th NFL season with his hometown Miami Dolphins, the team announced Friday.

Gore grew up in Coconut Grove, Florida, and attended Coral Gables High School before playing collegiately at the University of Miami.

He played the first 10 NFL seasons with the 49ers and is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher. Gore ranks fifth in NFL history with 14,026 rushing yards – just 75 yards behind No. 4 Curtis Martin.

After rushing for 11,073 yards and 64 touchdowns with the 49ers, the club declined to offer him a multi-year contract following the 2014 season. Gore played the past three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts.

Gore remains one of the most popular players in 49ers history. When asked recently if he would be willing to “retire” as a member of the 49ers after his final game, Gore reacted enthusiastically about the possibility.

1, Emmitt Smith 18,355
2, Walter Payton 16,726
3, Barry Sanders 15,269
4, Curtis Martin 14,101
5, Frank Gore 14,026

49ers increase competition for starting guard positions


49ers increase competition for starting guard positions

The 49ers are the fifth team to give Jonathan Cooper a chance after he arrived in the NFL as the No. 7 overall pick of the Arizona Cardinals in the 2013 draft.

Cooper, 28, caught the attention of the 49ers with his career-high 13 starts last season with the Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers signed him to a one-year, $4.95 million contract this week.

“We signed him to compete for one of the guard spots as a starter,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday at Stanford's pro day. “He played very well in our minds for Dallas last year and kind of resurrected his career. He’s battled injuries, but we really like the way he played, and we think he’s a very good fit for what we do. So we were pleased to add him.”

The 49ers plan to take it slowly this offseason with Cooper, who underwent surgery after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee during the final game of the season. The 49ers report for the offseason program in mid-April.

The 49ers are certain to have at least two new starters on the offensive line. Former New York Giants center Weston Richburg was signed to replace Daniel Kilgore, who was subsequently traded to the Miami Dolphins. Brandon Fusco, who started 16 games at right guard, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent.

Laken Tomlinson has a chance to hold onto a starting job. Acquired shortly before the start of the regular season in a trade from the Detroit Lions, Tomlinson quickly moved into the starting lineup at left guard and started the final 15 games. Tomlinson was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 2015.

“Laken played very well the longer he was there,” Lynch said. “I think people forget with Laken, he came here in Week 1. He was kind of force-fed. We didn’t have many options. But we saw a guy get better throughout the season. He’ll get his opportunity.”

Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2016, spent last season on injured reserve due to an a knee injury sustained in training camp. The 49ers challenged Garnett to get in better physical condition. He has been cleared for football activity.

“Joshua Garnett has been working extremely hard, so he’ll be in that mix,” Lynch said. “He did a great job embracing the time he has last year to improve as a player. He remade his body and we're looking forward to see him get after it in the offseason.

“I think he’s excited about it. He’s feeling sexy, as he says.”

Erik Magnuson, 24, won a spot on the 49ers’ roster after signing as an undrafted rookie from Michigan. Magnuson could enter into the competition at guard. He displayed unique versatility in his first season, starting two games at right tackle before sustaining a season-ending foot injury. He can also serve as a backup center.

And, perhaps, the 49ers are not finished adding to the competition. The team owns the No. 9 overall selection, and Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson could be on the radar in the unlikely event he is not selected within the top eight picks.

When asked if the 49ers could also add another player to the mix with a draft pick, Lynch answered, “We’ll see. We’re always looking to get better there.”