49ers

Norton Jr. knows Foster's skill set, ready to see what motivates him

Norton Jr. knows Foster's skill set, ready to see what motivates him

Robert Saleh was among the first people to call Ken Norton Jr. after he had been fired as Raiders defensive coordinator on Nov. 21.

Saleh worked under Norton for three seasons when they were on Pete Carroll’s staff with the Seattle Seahawks. Norton was the linebackers coach; Saleh was a quality control coach with an emphasis on linebackers.

This week, the 49ers hired Norton to serve under Saleh, the team’s defensive coordinator. Norton’s title is assistant head coach/inside linebackers.

“We have a fantastic relationship,” Norton said of Saleh during an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “In Seattle, I was the linebacker coach and he was my assistant. So I kind of taught him the ropes.

“He has a great vision of how he wanted to do things. I have a vision about how I like to do things. He really appreciated the way I treated him, the things I’ve been able to show him. And now he’s blossomed into a defensive coordinator.”

Young linebacker Reuben Foster is gaining the influence of a veteran within his position group with the addition of Norton as his position coach.

Norton, 51, played 13 NFL seasons – the final seven of which came with the 49ers. He won three Super Bowls as a player (two with Dallas, and one with the 49ers).

“He (Saleh) made it clear that they have a young player similar to the Bruce (Irvin) situation -- very talented, can really do a lot of special things,” Norton said. “And there’s no person he’d like to teach him than myself.

“So we started with that as the initial conversation. Then, it went on to the head coach and the general manager. We kept the conversation going, and this is where it ended up.”

Norton said he has not watched much of Foster’s rookie season, but he studied him a year ago as he was coming out of Alabama and into the NFL draft. The 49ers made a trade with Seattle to move up to No. 31 overall, where they selected Foster.

“Fast, smart, productive, around the ball, passionate – all the things you expect good linebackers to do,” Norton said of Foster. “He hits really hard, really physical. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him and find out what his makeup is or why he plays or what his motivation is or the things he might have planned for his career.

“That’ll be interesting to see the type of man he is. But just from everything on the surface, it looks really good. But you never know. You can never judge a book by its cover. So you have to see what he’s made of and what his motivation is.”

Norton made his motivation clear: He intends to play a role in returning the 49ers to the same level he experienced as a player. In his first season after signing with the 49ers as a free agent in 1994, the club won the Super Bowl.

“San Francisco and I go back to the good ol' days, Jerry Rice and Steve Young and all the fantastic times we’ve had,” Norton said. “(I’m) really look forward to bringing the good ol’ days back. And the things they started with a young quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) and with the juice and energy they put in that building, it’s really special to watch.”

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

Eric Reid presents Colin Kaepernick Ambassador of Conscience Award

AMSTERDAM — Amnesty International gave former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Saturday for his kneeling protest of racial injustice that launched a sports movement and might have cost him his job.

Onetime San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid presented Kaepernick with the award during a ceremony in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.

In his acceptance speech, the award-winner described police killings of African Americans and Latinos in the United States as lawful lynchings.

"Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex," Kaepernick said.

Kaepernick first took a knee during the pre-game playing of the American national anthem when he was with the 49ers in 2016 to protest police brutality.

"How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, 'freedom and justice for all,' that is so unjust to so many of the people living there?" he said at Saturday's award ceremony.

Other players joined his protest in the 2016 season, drawing the ire of President Donald Trump, who called for team owners to fire such players.

In response to the player demonstrations, the NFL agreed to commit $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes in a plan.

Kaepernick wasn't signed for the 2017 season following his release in San Francisco.

Reid, a safety who is now a free agent, continued Kaepernick's protests by kneeling during the anthem last season. Reid has said he will take a different approach in 2018.

Kaepernick paid tribute to his friend for his own role in the protest movement.

"Eric introducing me for this prestigious award brings me great joy," Kaepernick said. "But I am also pained by the fact that his taking a knee, and demonstrating courage to protect the rights of black and brown people in America, has also led to his ostracization from the NFL when he is widely recognized as one of the best competitors in the game and in the prime of his career."

Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization, "dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others."

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty called Kaepernick "an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination."

Previous recipients of the award include anti-Apartheid campaigner and South African President Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who campaigned for girls' right to education even after surviving being shot by Taliban militants.

"In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force," Kaepernick said.

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

Five NFL Draft options if 49ers make first-round trade

The 49ers have their starting and backup quarterbacks on the roster for at least the next three seasons. That luxury opens up their draft options to concentrate on other areas.

Quarterbacks Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen could be selected within the first eight picks of the draft. If those four quarterbacks are chosen, it means the 49ers will get – at worst – the fifth-ranked player on their draft board.

And if there is still one of those quarterbacks available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 9 overall, it invites the possibility of a trade-back option.

The 49ers could trade back and still get one of the five players – Tremaine Edmunds, Roquan Smith, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport – highlighted as first-round draft options.

But if the 49ers move further back or acquire an additional pick in the first round, here are some of their options...

OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The 49ers must start thinking about a time when two new offensive tackles are going to be required. McGlinchey (6-8, 312) began his career at right tackle before shifting to the left side. That versatility could come in handy for the 49ers, as right tackle Trent Brown enters the final year of his contract and might not be back in 2019. Moreover, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is 34 years old, and it is uncertain how much longer he can play at a high level. McGlinchey has the athleticism that Shanahan covets. He began high school as a tight end and also played on the basketball team.

OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Miller is an exceptional athlete who should get better and better. He ran the third-fastest time among offensive linemen at the combine and placed near the top of all the other agility drills. Miller started off his college career on the right side before shifting over to protect the blind side of quarterback Josh Rosen. With any offensive lineman the 49ers select, the club could consider having him begin his career at guard before moving him to tackle whenever the need arises.

CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
Jackson was among the 49ers’ final pre-draft visits to Santa Clara. The team needs another cornerback to join presumptive starters Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. At 6-0 3/8, Jackson is not as tall as initially advertised, but his style of play and long arms would fit well within the 49ers’ scheme. He has great instincts, as shown by his nation-leading eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups.

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
The consensus best wide receiver in the draft could provide Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan with another option in the passing game to join starters Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin. Garçon is the possession receiver and Goodwin is the deep threat. Ridley is versatile and polished, which makes him a nice chess piece to utilize early in his career for specific matchups.

WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
It should be noted that the 49ers like their receiver corps, a group that also includes Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson and Kendrick Bourne. But Sutton (6-3, 219) would give the 49ers more size to exploit matchups. He gets high marks off the field. There is no rush to get him out there before he is ready. The 49ers can take their time to develop him, as they would have him under their control contractually for five seasons. He has spent time learning from Anquan Boldin.