49ers

Solomon Thomas among 49ers rookies absent from offseason program

Solomon Thomas among 49ers rookies absent from offseason program

For the second spring in a row, the 49ers will have a first-round draft pick from Stanford absent from most of the team’s offseason program and playing catch up with nearly everyone else on the 90-man roster.

Former Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, wide receiver Trent Taylor, a fifth-round draft pick from Louisiana Tech, and undrafted wide receiver Kendrick Bourne of Eastern Washington are the only 49ers players who are currently ineligible to take part in the team's offseason program.

NFL rules stipulate that rookies who have not completed their undergraduate degrees are ineligible to join a team’s offseason program on a full-time basis until after their schools' final classes of the spring semester.

Thomas will not be eligible to join his 49ers teammates until June 14 – the second day of the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp. Taylor will be allowed to join the 49ers on Friday. The final day of classes at Eastern Washington is listed as June 16 for Bourne.

It is the second year in a row that Stanford’s late class schedule will have an impact on the 49ers. Guard Joshua Garnett worked out on his own last year and tried to replicate the 49ers’ workouts from video that was downloaded to his team-issued iPad. He arrived on the practice field for the team’s mandatory minicamp.

Thomas said he will try to follow a similar routine this spring until he is allowed to join his new teammates.

“We have our iPads, so I’ll be able to watch film from that,” he said. “I talk to Josh quite a bit, and he’ll give me advice on how to go through this process – how to stay in touch, just keep learning along the way and keep progressing along the way.”

All rookies were eligible to attend the rookie minicamp the weekend following the draft.

The 49ers are currently wrapping up the final week of the team’s three-week period of Phase II of the offseason program. On-field workouts are permitted, but there can be no offense vs. defense drills.

Organized team activities begin next week with offense vs. defense allowed. No live contact is permitted. The 49ers’ official offseason program concludes with the team’s minicamp in mid-June.

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.