49ers

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

kap-ratto.jpg
USATSI

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.

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

blaine-ap.jpg
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.

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

kyle-us.jpg
USATSI

49ers Mailbag: Should Shanahan give up play-calling?

Believe it or not, the 49ers’ offense is improved from last season.

The 49ers ranked 31st in the NFL in 2016, averaging 308.1 yards per game. Although the offense is producing just a little better (325.9 yards per game), their ranking this season has shot up to 21st in the league.

The 49ers have had a different head coach and different person running the offense in each of the past four seasons, so their continuity has been severely lacking.

Next season, the 49ers should finally have carryover from one season to the next.

The direction of the offense is one of the topics addressed on this edition of 49ers Mailbag (questions were submitted via Facebook):

Now that we have Jimmy G do you see 49ers getting an offensive coordinator or will it still be Kyle calling the plays? (Julio Orozco)
I'm not sure why the arrival of Jimmy Garoppolo would have any impact on the 49ers’ offensive structure, but in any event, the answer is a resounding, “No.”

Kyle Shanahan has been hailed as one of the best offensive coordinators in the NFL. The reason he was hired as 49ers head coach was, in large part, because of the success he achieved while designing offenses and calling plays.

Why would he give that up? It makes no sense.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN this week identified the 32 primary play-callers. There are 18 NFL head coaches with offensive backgrounds. Twelve of those coaches call their own plays.

Shanahan has a staff of assistant coaches on whom he leans. Passing game specialist Mike LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello are closely involved in working with Shanahan on the passing game, while running game specialist Mike McDaniel, offensive line coach John Benton and running backs coach Bobby Turner spearhead the involvement in the ground game.

But, make no mistake, it is Shanahan who calls the shots. And that's the way it should be. If Shanahan stepped aside as his own offensive coordinator, he would be diminishing his biggest strength as a coach.

What do you see happing with the Hyde situation? We drafted Joe Williams and Breida seems to be a bright spot. There’s a lot of talk about Barkley from Penn State with that high 1st rounder. (Manny Hinojos)
There does not seem to be any movement toward a long-term extension for Hyde. It is getting to the point in the season where it makes a lot more sense for Hyde to play out his contract and hit the open market.

There is no question in my mind the 49ers like Hyde a lot. He has scored some major points with the organization for his performance on the field and how he has responded off the field.

GM John Lynch loved it when Hyde came to the defense of quarterback C.J. Beathard, tussled with Arizona lineman Frostee Rucker and got ejected from the game.

That said, the 49ers are not going to break the bank for Hyde. A multi-year agreement has to come at the right price. My personal feeling is that running backs are luxury pieces when the remainder of a team’s roster -- especially the offensive line -- is set.

Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, and Turner (the assistant coach who served on both of their staffs) have achieved a lot of success without investing heavily in running backs. That’s why I think the 49ers would be best-served by investing elsewhere and using another mid-round draft pick on a running back.

With Joshua Garnett coming back next season how aggressive will Lynch and Shanahan be in trying to get guards this offseason? (David Hartless)
Garnett is not a particularly good fit for this offensive scheme. The presence of Garnett can help increase the competition next offseason, but I do not believe he is being penciled in as a starter.

The 49ers will certainly be aggressive in an attempt to upgrade the guard positions. Currently, Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Fusco are the starters. Neither will be assured a starting job when the offseason begins.

The 49ers did not see enough from Garnett to determine he has a future with the organization, but he will be given the opportunity to come back healthy and prove himself.

Is Eric Reid in long-term plans? (Grant Rasmussen)
I do not believe so. I think the 49ers would like their starting safeties next season to be Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt – with Adrian Colbert as the front-runner for the No. 3 job.

The 49ers can also be expected to add a player or two in free agency, as well as the draft, to provide a competitive environment in the offseason. The 49ers seemed to telegraph their intention with Reid when they moved him to linebacker with Ward and Tartt remaining as the starting safeties.

That position change lasted about a week, as Ward’s injury prompted the team to move Reid back to safety. Reid is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. It's entirely possible there will not be a big market for him, but I do not believe the 49ers are going to be ultra-competitive in retaining him on the open market.