49ers

In naming Kaepernick 'Citizen of the Year,' GQ recalibrates what we have taken for granted

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In naming Kaepernick 'Citizen of the Year,' GQ recalibrates what we have taken for granted

Gentlemen’s Quarterly is not typically the defining mechanism of a man’s work. At least it shouldn’t be, not by my narrow concept of what is still a predominantly style-based magazine.

But when it named Colin Kaepernick its Citizen Of The Year, as told in the words of other admiring celebrity mavens, it recalibrated a lot of things we have taken for granted.

Like conscience. He had one. He exercised it at considerable personal cost and became a national touchstone on the real beginning of the new century. He put a cleaver to our national pretense of “one country” and made it plain that football isn’t meant to be the be-all and end-all of a football player’s life. A man must have a code, after all, and human decency for all under an umbrella of America-as-it-ought-to-be is his.

But his code was revealed in rejecting football (or actually, having it reject him), and while the national tide has swirled around him, he also helped reveal the slowly but discernibly rotting underpinnings of the National Football League which is responding to all this external struggle by eating itself. The NFL's power and resources are vast, so the cannibalism will take a decade and likely more, but it is happening right where everyone can see.

The owners are eating their hand-selected commissioner, who is using shape-shifting and often extra-legal standards to eat some of the game’s biggest names, who are eating each other with every helmet-to-helmet collision and disregard for their mutual power.

The next generation of sports fans is eating its remotes by finding other things to do in record numbers, the past and present generations of sports fans are using football as a meal for its own political positions, and the next generation of media executives are eating their own preconceptions about a football-based programming economy at a time when their own long-range projections are being undercut by technological advancements.

Plus, and let’s not forget this, the current president is wreaking his harpie’s revenge on the men and women who rejected him decades ago as a potential NFL owner because he was too malignant even for them.

Now what business should survive based on that? Well, there is that too-big-to-fail thing, but I wouldn't bank on that being true forever. Having ignored the slowly building health and safety considerations and the changing demographic tastes, it was shown all of it in its festering glory when Kaepernick decided one man’s voice wasn’t too small, and one man’s platform wasn’t too rickety.

And he wasn’t even going after football. He was going after social inequity and cruelties, the way a good citizen should.

So maybe GQ isn’t the Nobel Prize, or Time’s Person Of The Year. But credit to them for getting the sentiment right by seeing Kaepernick as a citizen in the most meaningful way a citizen can be viewed, and woe betide the National Football League for being collateral damage in a rapidly changing nation that is trying in its far too clumsy and often hateful way to relocate its essential reason for being.

Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

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Drafted by Baalke with injury, former 49ers WR signs with Colts

The 49ers recently re-signed eight of the 10 players who finished the season on the team’s practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Smelter, who was not among the first wave of 49ers signings to 2018 contracts, signed Wednesday with the Indianapolis Colts, ending his three-season association with the organization.

Smelter was one of general manager Trent Baalke’s redshirt draft picks. The team selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft despite a torn ACL that ended his final season at Georgia Tech.

Smelter spent his first season on an injured list. He was waived at the beginning of the past two seasons, finishing both years on the 49ers’ practice squad. Smelter appeared in two games in 2016 and caught one pass for 23 yards.

Last season, the 49ers signed wide receivers Louis Murphy and Max McCaffrey to spots on the 53-man roster instead of Smelter, who remained on the practice squad.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter, who also spent the entire season on the practice squad, was signed recently to the team’s 90-man roster.

Others who finished the season on the 49ers practice squad to remain on the team’s offseason roster are: quarterback Nick Mullens, tight end Cole Wick, offensive linemen Andrew Lauderdale and Pace Murphy, linebacker Boseko Lokombo, and defensive backs Trovon Reed and Channing Stribling.

The 49ers also signed fullback Malcolm Johnson, who spent last season on injured reserve with the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson appeared in 19 games over the 2015 and ’16 seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was a sixth-round draft pick in ’15.

Offensive linemen Cameron Hunt, who finished the season on the 49ers’ practice squad, remains unsigned. Guard JP Flynn is also unsigned. He sustained a torn patellar tendon in November and underwent surgery that was expected to keep him out up to nine months.

An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

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An intriguing dynamic of Garoppolo's contract negotiations

If the 49ers and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are unable to reach a multi-year contract extension by March 6, the 49ers have no other choice but to designate him as their franchise player.

The estimated one-year salary for the franchise tag would be $23.307 million, according to former NFL agent Joel Corry, whose work now appears at CBS Sports. (That is assuming a 2018 league-wide salary cap of $178.1 million per team.)

There is a lot to consider for both sides as they look to enter into a long-term contract. Corry said if a deal is struck, he would expect it to be in the neighborhood of Derek Carr’s five-year, $125 million deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason.

“And then there’s the other dynamic, which I would not undersell or I think may not be appreciated as much as it should be,” Corry said on the 49ers Insider Podcast. “(Garoppolo’s agent) Don Yee has a reputation – no fault of his own – of doing team-friendly deals.”

Yee also represents New England quarterback Tom Brady, whose average of $20.5 million annual pay ranks 15th among NFL quarterbacks. Brady is underpaid by design, Corry said, because one of the great quarterbacks of all-time realizes it helps the Patriots to maintain a strong supporting cast.

“That’s because Tom Brady dictates, ‘I want to do something good for the team, take less money so we can improve the roster to win Super Bowls.’ That’s not Don Yee who wants to do that,” Corry said.

“The agent works for the player, so he’s executing Tom Brady’s wishes. But he gets that held against him in recruiting. So this is his opportunity to erase that perception if Garoppolo allows him to do his job and gives him latitude to strike the deal that he feels is appropriate.”

For more on the potential negotiating strategies of both sides, listen here to the 49ers Insider Podcast.