An open letter to NFL owners: It's not too late to do the right thing


An open letter to NFL owners: It's not too late to do the right thing

In your search for someone who might take your team to a Super Bowl you have, for crying out loud, signed the likes of David Olson, Ryan Nassib and Aaron Murray.

After enduring 28 games -- including six shutouts -- in which your teams couldn’t muster as many as 10 points, you’re still settling for rejects as Brandon Weeden and Matt McGloin.

The message is clear that you, the members of the NFL’s power structure, are more content to lose with humdrum-to-wretched quarterbacks you are comfortable with than to join hands with your fabricated “enemy.”

That would be Colin Kaepernick.

You, the billionaires who own NFL teams, have remained committed to avoiding Kaepernick and whining about the revenue you’re losing while ignoring a diplomatic option that would represent a giant step toward a peace for all.

How about standing with Kaepernick? Not necessarily the man, but his principles.

Understand, Kaepernick has no quarrel with the military or the police or the flag. Rather, he is out of work because he is fighting the disease that is social inequality and has inspired dozens of NFL players to take up the cause.

Are you, as owners, so immersed in your anger and fixated on your power that you cannot see you are welcome to join the movement?

That’s not the same as signing Kaepernick, of course, but it’s a much easier move to make. And, in the end, it’s a good bet he’d appreciate it even more.

You could, as a group, create social programs, as Kaepernick has. You could, as a group, donate to worthwhile causes, as Kaepernick does. You could, as a group, take a sober look at racial injustice, as Kaepernick has, and commit to fighting it.

It is never wrong for good citizens to confront such abominations as racism, sexism and ethnic parochialism and it can’t be wrong for you, as NFL owners, to put your dollars were your hearts are.

Is it too much to ask that your hearts be in favor of what is fair?

If Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long can, in the wake of the national shame that was Charlottesville, start donating paychecks to “promote equality through education,” so can you.

If Houston Texans star J.J. Watt can raise $37 million for the regional disaster that was Hurricane Harvey, imagine how the walls of injustice might crack, at least a bit, under the weight of support from the NFL’s owner/management level.

Had you folks signed on and offered political and financial support months ago, when it was clear Kaepernick was standing on principle, it would have served as proof that you are listening to those who want something better for America.

It likely would have been enough to avoid those bothersome but benign actions such as kneeling in peaceful protest and, therefore, spare you the PR headache this season has been.

Neither you folks nor the players are satisfied, and the segment of your fan base uninterested in equality is downright indignant.

It’s not too late. It’s never too late to do the right thing. If you sign on now, even the most militant players would recognize the kind of progress they hope to achieve whenever they meet with a few members of your group.

Some of you, like Jed York of the 49ers, are standing with Kaepernick and pledging financial support. That’s a start. But most of you continue to moan about the anthem and the flag and the players you don’t believe show proper respect.

Your transparent avoidance of Kaepernick and his cause is a choice. It’s the pursuit of profits over principle. It’s collective power within an industry over the long-term health of the game and, to a degree, the general welfare of the country.

Meanwhile, it gets sillier by the week as your floundering teams sprint past a talented Super Bowl quarterback to rummage through the football junkyard in search of a remnant of a QB.

Will it stay this way? Probably. All signs indicate you will not budge in regards to Kaepernick.

That would be OK, perhaps even to Kaepernick, as long as your support is genuine, your intentions honest and your actions lead to positive purposes that serve us all.

If any of your fans are against that, well, you should feel obligated to decline their dollars out of principle.

Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'


Kilgore: All of 49ers on same page 'for the first time in a long time'

The 49ers’ coaching staff made its feelings known to center Daniel Kilgore throughout the season.

But, in the past, that would not have necessarily meant everyone in the organization had the same thoughts about Kilgore, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

“The whole season, coaches and I had a good relationship,” Kilgore said Wednesday on conference call with Bay Area reporters. “Just talking and having one-on-ones with various coaches, I had a positive outlook for the future.

“But that’s just one thing. The coaches have an opinion of you, but then there’s also the front office. That’s two totally different things. And I think for the first time in a long time, our coaches and the front office are on the same page.”

Kilgore was working out back home in Tennessee on Wednesday when he signed a three-year contract to avoid hitting the free-agent market. Kilgore, 30, a seven-year NFL veteran, described the contract as a team-friendly deal.

The 49ers presented Kilgore with a contract offer during the season but negotiations did not get serious until just recently. While the 49ers expressed interest in retaining Kilgore, he said he did not know what the future held for him when he packed his belongings from the locker room on the day after the season ended.

“It kind of makes you nervous because in this profession, people like the younger guys,” Kilgore said. “You just never know what will happen at any time, any given day, in the NFL. So toward the end, that last day of clearing out the locker, I didn’t know if I’d be back. I didn’t know if the Niners would want me back.”

Kilgore was named the winner of the organization’s top honor for an offensive lineman. Kilgore won the Bobb McKittrick Award for best exemplifying the dedication, excellence and commitment of the long-time 49ers offensive line coach. Kilgore started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons, including a career-high 16 games last season.

"I've been here seven years and I consider the Bay Area my second home,” Kilgore said. “To be able to extend my career wearing the 49ers jersey was special to me. This team is heading in the right direction, I wanted to be a part of it."

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

Matt Maiocco

Why the 49ers did not hesitate to pay Garoppolo big money

When Jimmy Garoppolo signed a contract that could pay him up to $137.5 million over the next five years, he was asked what convinced him during his nine weeks with the organization that he wanted to be with the 49ers for the long term.

“I think it was a number of things,” Garoppolo said last week. “The team, the acceptance that they had of me when I first got here from the get-go, the coaching staff, Kyle and Rich. It was a very welcoming environment, and I really liked that. We had some success down the stretch, and you could see that pieces were falling into place. We've got a long way to go, but I think we're moving in the right direction.”

Kyle, of course, is head coach Kyle Shanahan. Rich Scagarello is the 49ers’ quarterbacks coach, and the person from whom Garoppolo spent the most time after arriving in Santa Clara on Oct. 31 after a trade with the New England Patriots.

Garoppolo earned $3.5 million in his first four NFL seasons. His new contract makes him the NFL’s highest-paid player, making an average of $27.5 million per season, with $48.7 million fully guaranteed.

Scangarello, appearing this week on The 49ers Insider Podcast, talked about what he learned about Garoppolo from working so closely with him to teach him Shanahan's offense. Scangarello said there is no question in his mind the money will not change Garoppolo’s approach to his work.

“That’s why it was easy for the organization and everyone to invest in somebody like Jimmy Garoppolo,” Scangarello said. “I just think that’s not the kind of person he is. If you met his family, you know where he comes from, what he’s about. His brothers, his parents, are just good, solid people people. He’s made of the right stuff and I just don’t see that affecting him in that way.

“It’s just not who he is. That’s the fun part of working with somebody like that every day. When they’re really talented and they appreciate everything and they work at it, you have a chance to be a successful organization and they can be a great player. And I don’t think those things will ever affect him.”