49ers

Lynch promises 49ers will be aggressive in free agency: 'Stay awake'

Lynch promises 49ers will be aggressive in free agency: 'Stay awake'

INDIANAPOLIS – Before the start of the new league year next Thursday, the 49ers hope to make some deals with some of their own scheduled free agents.

The 49ers have 18 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency, including quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is expected to opt out of his contract. While the 49ers are expected to take things slow with Kaepernick, general manager John Lynch said there is some urgency to get other deals completed.

“Some of those are in the process of going on right now,” Lynch said. “Hopefully, we see some things in the next couple of days.”

Among the 49ers’ top scheduled free agents are kicker Phil Dawson, and wide receivers Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton.

The 49ers have already invested more in veteran free agents than a year ago. The 49ers last week signed defensive tackle Earl Mitchell to a four-year, $16 million contract. Mitchell became available when the Miami Dolphins recently released him.

The start of the free-agent signing period under former 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was usually a slow time for the franchise. Lynch promised a more-aggressive approach when nearly $90 million in cap room.

“Stay awake,” Lynch said.

The 49ers want to fill needs in free agency, so the organization can avoid the shackles of drafting for need.

“We need players and we’ve got to get ourselves in a situation with certain pieces that we made priorities and certain type of guys so we don’t go into this draft saying, ‘We have to have this,’” Lynch said.

“It’s the best way to go in and take the best player, but sometimes you can’t do that. You need certain positions and we don’t want to be in that position everywhere. So there are certain things we have high on our priority list and get accomplished. And we’re going to be aggressive in getting those done.”

49ERS FREE AGENTS
Unrestricted

--QB Colin Kaepernick*
--QB Blaine Gabbert
--QB Christian Ponder
--QB Thad Lewis
--RB Shaun Draughn
--RB DuJuan Harris
--WR Jeremy Kerley
--WR Quinton Patton
--WR Rod Streater
--TE Jim Dray
--OL Andrew Gardner
--K Phil Dawson
--DT Glenn Dorsey
--DT Tony Jerod-Eddie
--DL Chris Jones
--LB Nick Bellore
--LB Gerald Hodges
--LB Michael Wilhoite

Restricted
--OL Andrew Tiller
--DB Marcus Cromartie
--CB Chris Davis

Exclusive rights
--DL Mike Purcell (tendered)
--LB Carl Bradford (tendered)

*-Expected to opt out of contract.

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.