49ers

Why 49ers release of Bowman is best for both sides

Why 49ers release of Bowman is best for both sides

The 49ers came to the conclusion linebacker NaVorro Bowman no longer had value to the organization on or off the field.

In Bowman’s mind, he is the same player who was a first-team All-Pro selection in his each of his four full seasons as an NFL starter.

And that’s where the sides agreed to disagree, which led the 49ers to release Bowman on Friday -- on the same day the club travels to the East Coast to face Washington on Sunday.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan appeared at a press conference Friday at 49ers headquarters in Santa Clara to discuss the move.

“When Kyle and I came into this, we said we knew that we would have to make tough decisions, if they were in the best interests of our team. We felt like this was,” Lynch said.

Bowman started to see a reduction in his playing time last week against the Indianapolis Colts. He would have seen a significant decrease as rookie Reuben Foster returns to full strength from a high ankle sprain.

He made it clear he did not like coming off the field for just one series per half a week ago. He was certainly not going to be satisfied being – at most – a two-down player with Foster playing full-time.

Bowman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, expressed to the 49ers on Monday that Bowman would like to seek a trade. The 49ers reached out to all 31 teams after a meeting with Bowman, Lynch and Shanahan following practice on Thursday.

Rosenhaus called Friday morning to tell Lynch that Bowman would publicly accept a reduced role with the 49ers.

But, by that time, Lynch knew it was too late. The 49ers pulled the plug on trade talks with a couple of interested teams, according to Lynch, to enable Bowman to become a free agent and cut his own deal.

"Having been through that myself, once you're there, mentally, people feel it in the building," Lynch said. "Some people are going to question whether this is, but I truly do feel it's best for us and I truly do feel it's best for Bow, for him to go and have an opportunity somewhere where if someone brings him in, I will imagine they will have a role and that role will be easier. It's harder to do in the place you've been."

Bowman missed the entire 2014 season with a devastating knee injury sustained in the NFC Championship game at Seattle in January 2014. He returned to an All-Pro level in 2015, but sustained a torn Achilles in the fourth game of last season.

Lynch and Shanahan described the 49ers’ decision to release Bowman at this stage of the season as a move that was best for Bowman and the 49ers.

It was clear he did not exhibit the same explosiveness and foot speed upon his return to the field for this season.

Off the field, the 49ers wanted Bowman to take on more of a leadership stature, a selfless attitude and accept his role of helping set a good example for the young players as the team got off to an 0-5 start.

The future for the 49ers is Foster. The future also includes Malcolm Smith, who would have been a starter if not for the season-ending pectoral injury he sustained in August. The 49ers also like Brock Coyle, and newcomers Elijah Lee and Mark Nzeocha, Lynch said.

With an increasing price tag for next year that included a scheduled $9.45 million in salary and bonuses, there was no chance Bowman would be back with the 49ers next season, regardless of how things went the remainder of the season.

Bowman does not see himself as a player in the twilight of his career. He was upset that he was being phased out. Bowman still sees himself as one of the league’s top players.

The 49ers gave him that opportunity to go to another team to prove it.

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.