Tough times for T.O.


Tough times for T.O.

Vernon Davis hauled in the 14-yard pass deftly tucked between defenders over the middle, held on through contact and converted the game-winning touchdown to propel the 49ers to the next round of the playoffs.

It immediately triggered memory recall of Terrell Owens' catch in the 1998 wild-card game that gave San Francisco a win over the Packers, and that was before Davis returned to the sidelines with a face masked in tears, just as T.O. did 13 years earlier.

"The Catch 2," as it has been dubbed, was one of the highest moments of Owens' career, but his mercurial NFL tenure has endured plenty of low points as well. Indeed, two orthogonal forces have been at work throughout Owens' 15-year career: His intense work ethic, and his slightly misconstrued world perspective.

A result of his Type-A personality, the media spotlight has never been too far from No. 81, and most recently it shined on his announcement to return to professional football...albeit indoor football.

Owens, 38, will join the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. The new gig will earn him somewhere between 250K and 500K.

Payday couldn't come at a more important time for Owens, who -- despite career earnings of over 80 million -- told GQ magazine for their February issue that he is broke. "I hate myself for letting this happen," he says. "I believed that my advisors had my back when they said, 'You take care of the football, and we'll do the rest.' And in the end, they just basically stole from me."

Owens claims his difficult fiscal position is the result of trusting people too much. GQ reports that his financial advisers "put him in a series of risky, highly leveraged ventures. He invested heavily in real estate and lost millions in the crash. His so-called friend siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from him. There were the sunk costs tied to the Alabama entertainment complex -- illegal in the state -- that plagued him and others sold on the get-rich-quick scheme (Clinton Portis and Floyd Mayweather among). The final financial thorn in Owens' side more closely resembles a four-pronged Figian brain fork -- each tine representing one of his baby's mothers; Owens pays a total of 178,400 every month in child support."

When people ask where he is, GQ says Owens texts back, "IM IN HELL."

That would all change with one little phone call from agent Drew Rosenhaus. True to his form, Owens has maintained his physique, and he still believes he has a few productive football seasons left.

Toward the end of last year, Owens held a private workout seeking an NFL suitor. None came. "With T.O.," an NFL executive told GQ, "no matter how brilliant he can be on the field, the dark side is always lurking. You don't know which T.O. you're going to get, and no one is comfortable risking that."

Well, the IFL Wranglers are comfortable taking that risk, and you can be sure Owens knows this will be one of his final chances to prove he can still get it done to earn a professional-football-caliber paycheck.

I was a fan before I was a journalist, and my moment with T.O. came at Game 5 of the 2002 World Series. We stood side by side in the Pac Bell tunnel looking out onto Field. He took the time to take a photo and autograph my foam finger, then as we brought it in for the real deal, he said, "Let's do this," nodding to the field.

We did it, for that game at least, as Jeff Kent hit two blasts, Jason Schmidt struck out eight Angels and the Giants took a 3-2 lead in the series. It was a simple interaction, but it was all he needed to do to earn himself a fan for life.

Owens, who is a large reason the Yards after Catch statistic came into existence, should be a no-doubt, first-ballot hall of famer. In NFL history, he is bested only by Jerry Rice in career receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. But there is no denying his career had its fair share of pitfalls.

49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks


49ers host two free-agent cornerbacks

The 49ers hosted two veteran cornerbacks on free-agent visits the past two days and could be signing either Jaylen Watkins or LaDarius Gunter as they wind down their activity on the free-agent market.

“We’re really pleased with what we’ve done,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Thursday. “I’ll never say never. We’ve had a couple of guys visit in the last couple of days. Perhaps we’ll do something there. But for the most part, we’re wrapped up and pleased with what we’ve been able to do.”

The 49ers do not have much depth behind presumptive starting cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon. The team is also likely to add to its depth in the draft.

The 49ers met with Gunter (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) on Thursday. Gunter, 25, started 15 games for the Green Bay Packers in 2016. He recorded 54 tackles and broke up 12 passes. He signed with the Packers in 2015 as an undrafted rookie from Miami.

Gunter was waived at the beginning of last season and the Carolina Panthers claimed him. He appeared in just four games with Carolina, which did not tender him as a restricted free agent.

The 49ers on Wednesday met with Watkins, 26, a versatile defensive back who appeared in 36 games with five starts in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Watkins (5-11, 195) played three snaps on defense and 17 plays on special teams in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4. He entered the NFL in 2014 as a fourth-round draft pick from Florida.

Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'


Eric Reid discusses free-agent status, 'going to consider different ways to be active'

STANFORD – Free-agent safety Eric Reid chatted with 49ers general manager John Lynch on the sideline, then moved into position onto the field for an up-close view of his brother’s pro day workout Thursday at Stanford University.

Younger brother, Justin, is aiming to be a first-round draft pick like Eric, whom the 49ers selected with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Both football futures of the Reid brothers remain uncertain. Justin's fate will be determined on draft day. Eric Reid remains in limbo as an NFL free agent. He has not gotten any action in the first week of free agency, and the 49ers have not made him a contract offer, he said.

But Lynch said the 49ers are closely monitoring Reid’s situation. However, the organization already has three safeties they like: Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt and Adrian Colbert.

“Eric played and played well for us last year,” Lynch said. “I think he’s stuck in a safety market that’s been quiet. And I would anticipate things starting to shake for him and we’ll see.

“I’d never say never. I really do think opportunities will start to come his way. We’ve been monitoring it closely and we’ll see how that shakes out.”

Reid, 26, a six-year NFL veteran, said his agent has spoken recently to “a couple of teams,” but no contracts or visits have been proposed.

Reid’s market might be impacted by his up-front role in the protests of racial inequality of the past two seasons. Reid and Colin Kaepernick were the first players to take a knee during the national anthem at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Reid said he would probably not take part in any future protests during the national anthem.

“From the beginning, Colin has been flexible,” Reid said. “He started by sitting. He changed it up. We decided to kneel. And we understand that you got to change with the times. So I’m not saying I’m going to stop being active, because I won’t. I’m just going to consider different ways to be active, different ways to bring awareness to the issues of this country to improve on.

“I don’t think it’ll be in the form of protesting during the anthem. And I said ‘during’ because it’s crazy to me that the narrative got changed to we were protesting the anthem, because that wasn’t the case. But I think we’re going to take a different approach to how to be active.”

Reid said he has no regrets. He said he is willing to deal with the consequences of how NFL teams viewed his role in the protests.

“I stand by what I’ve done,” Reid said. “I know why I’ve done it. My faith in God is the reason. I can go to sleep at night confident I did what I was called to do. I’m just gong to stay positive and keep trying to stay in shape and wait and see what happens.

“I said at the end of last season I’m OK no matter what happens.”