49ers

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

Lynch makes former classmate first draft selection as 49ers' GM

SANTA CLARA – Leading up to Stanford’s bowl game, defensive lineman Solomon Thomas was mostly an under-the-radar draft prospect.

John Lynch had known all about him for a few years. He even called some NFL teams to give them a heads-up to watch No. 90 -- long before he was hired to run the 49ers' personnel department.

After trading back one spot with the Chicago Bears, Lynch made Thomas his first selection as 49ers general manager. The 49ers drafted Thomas with the No. 3 overall pick.

“I want to make it the best draft pick he has,” Thomas said on Thursday.

Thomas first met Lynch during his freshman year at Stanford. Lynch returned to Stanford to finish his degree. They took a class together: Management Science and Engineering.

According to MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, they even collaborated on a project of whether the NFL’s Washington team should change its mascot name.

“I remember I was star-stuck the first day of class,” Thomas said.

Thomas said they did not talk much in the following years, but Thomas reached out to Lynch for advice before Stanford’s game against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.

Said Thomas, “In the pre-draft process before the North Carolina game, he told me: ‘Don’t worry about the external stuff going on. Worry about yourself and your team. The best thing you can do is have the best bowl game possible and show you’re unstoppable and unblockable.”

That is exactly what Thomas did in Stanford’s 25-23 victory over Mitchell Trubisky’s team. Thomas recorded seven tackles, two behind the line of scrimmage, and a sack.

A month later, Lynch was hired as 49ers general manager and Thomas first began to think about the possibility of being drafted by his former classmate.

“I thought it was definitely a possibility,” Thomas said. “People really hadn’t watched my film yet, so I didn’t know if I’d go that high.”

Thomas was routinely matched with the 49ers in mock drafts in the weeks leading up to Thursday’s first round. The 49ers swapped their second pick with the Chicago Bears, who moved up to select Trubisky.

All along, Thomas said he wanted the 49ers to draft him.

“In my head I thought, ‘I love that, but I can’t ride the rollercoaster and believe that stuff or I’m going to get my heart broken.’ I kept my mind open and came in blind and tried to be happy for any team to draft me,” Thomas said. “But the best team for me drafted me and the best team I wanted to draft me drafted me.

“I love John Lynch. I love the way he played the mentality that he’s going to bring to the team. Coach (Kyle) Shanahan seems like an amazing man and an amazing coach.”

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

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USATSI

Roger Goodell: 'What we are trying to stay out of is politics'

NEW YORK — The NFL is not changing its national anthem policy to require players to stand during the national anthem.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday at the league’s fall meetings that altering the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed.

New York Giants owner John Mara noted that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones “spoke at length” to the other owners about the anthem issue. Jones has said any Dallas player who doesn’t stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” would not be playing.

Goodell reiterated that the league and its 32 clubs “believe everyone should stand for the national anthem. It’s an important part of our policy and the game. It’s important to honor our flag and our country and I think our fans expect that.”

Asked about any owners who threatened discipline for players who didn’t stand, Goodell said the owners didn’t discuss it.

“There was a fair amount of conversation and I think our clubs see it the same way. I can’t deal with hypotheticals,” Goodell said.

Reminded that President Donald Trump tweeted again Wednesday about the demonstrations during the anthem, Goodell said there was nothing unpatriotic about his league.

“Everyone feels strongly about our country and have pride,” he said, adding the NFL is “not afraid of tough conversations.

“What we are trying to stay out of is politics.”

Goodell noted that only six or seven players are still kneeling or are involved in protests.

“We hope we will continue to work to put that at zero,” he said.

On Tuesday, in an unprecedented move for a league meeting, a group of 11 owners and more than a dozen players met for more than two hours at NFL headquarters. Among the topics discussed was enhancing the players’ platforms for speaking out on social issues.

“I understand the way they feel about these issues,” Goodell said Wednesday. “We feel the same about patriotism and the flag and I believe our players feel that way. We have a great deal of support for the efforts of our players.”

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

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AP

Trump blasts NFL for not demanding players stand during national anthem

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is again criticizing the NFL over players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that the “NFL has decided that it will not force players to stand for the playing of our National Anthem.”

He adds: “Total disrespect for our great country!”

Trump appeared to be responding to the NFL annual fall meeting on Tuesday. The league invited players and representatives from their union to discuss social issues.

The topic of the national anthem was not discussed at length. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said owners did not ask players to commit to standing during the anthem.

Trump has suggested the owners should “fire” any players who knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”