Cam Newton

Shanahan: 'We definitely have a woman who talks about routes'

Shanahan: 'We definitely have a woman who talks about routes'

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been under a lot of scrutiny lately for the "routes" comment  he made during a midweek press conference. 

On Friday, during his weekly radio interview, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan chimed in on the situation

"We definitely have a woman who talks about routes all the time," Shanahan said. "I think our players definitely listen to her so it definitely caught me off when I saw Cam's comments."

Shanahan is referring to Katie Sowers and her role as a 49ers seasonal offensive assistant. Sowers became the first female assistant in NFC history this season. Sowers is situated upstairs for game days as part of Shanahan’s staff. Last season, she was with Shanahan as a member of the Falcons' staff on an internship.

“She came in and worked with the receivers and did as good of a job as anyone I've had in the internship," Shanahan said of Sowers in August. "We loved having her around. She was eager to learn it, she has played professional football in a women's league in the United States for a while and she's passionate about it.

“Us spending a whole training camp with her, she did a great job and she ended up helping out in Atlanta in personnel throughout the year."

"I heard he [Newton] apologized last night, which is definitely needed," Shanahan said. "But that's definitely something that we don't look at it that way around here."

Indeed, Newton did. In a video apology posted to social media, the former NFL MVP said: "After careful thought, I understand that my word choice was extremely degrading and disrespectful to women. "To be honest, that was not my intentions. And if you are a person who took offense to what I said, I sincerely apologize to you.

"What I did was extremely unacceptable," Newton said. "I'm a father to two beautiful daughters and I try to instill in them that they can be anything that they want to be. The fact that during this process I have already lost sponsors and countless fans I realize that the joke is really on me. I have really learned a valuable lesson from this."

No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

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No reason whatsoever for Newton to be too clever by half, too contemptuous by double

The Cam Newton/Jourdan Rodrigue story did what these stories are supposed to do -- go supernova, explode, and then leave a quiet dead spot in the universe.

And did so in less than a day.

You know the particulars -- Rodrigue, the Charlotte Observer writer and Carolina Panthers beat writer, asked Newton a fairly innocuous question about receiver Devin Funchess which Newton turned into a snippy pejorative of women, sportswriters and women sportswriters. Since then, someone deep-dove Rodrigue’s Twitter account and found her laughing at racist references (she apologized) and Dannon Yogurt dropped Newton as a spokesman in part because he didn’t (apologize, that is).

The clear takeaways are that Newton’s retrograde position on women in the business of sports was and is a public relations disaster, that Rodrigue’s weakness (her Twitter game) will become the secondary reasoning for Newton’s defenders, and that apologies remain the major way we as a culture measure someone’s ability to overcome an error in judgment (at best) and/or a sexism-racism debate (at worst).

And here’s the weirdest part of this very weird story. It was all over a simple question about Funchess that required only -- and I do mean ONLY -- that Newton pay compliment to one of his wide receivers.

The question was not accusatory in nature, or suggested some sort of shortcoming in either player. It wasn’t delving into team secrets or putting the Panthers in some sort of competitive disadvantage. Even if it was, the response Newton gave would be wrong, but in this case it was wrong for no good reason.

This will bear repeating as he eventually delivers the team-written apology, and when his agent scares up his next endorsement after the heat from the Dannon folks dissipates. Newton lost much by giving an answer to a question that had no risk at all and was even providing praise for a teammate.

And whether Funchess needs that or not is not relevant. Maybe his parents or friends or partner would have enjoyed it. Maybe he becomes a quick five-minute throwaway on one of the endlessly tedious and tediously endless midweek shows that gets him a bit of notice.

But Newton needed to be too clever by half and too contemptuous by double – FOR NO GAIN WHATSOEVER. NONE.

So while his views of women in sports are clearly problematic (and that’s giving him all the best of it, let’s be honest), it is the time and place and circumstances here that actually make this worse than he’s already been called. He became a talking point (which is about as bad as things get these days) because he couldn’t form the phrase, “Yes, Devin Funchess is a quite a help to me and all of us.”

Unbelievable. And yet completely believable.

49ers: There's nothing questionable about Cam Newton

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49ers: There's nothing questionable about Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is listed as questionable for the season opener against the 49ers because “probable” is no longer an allowable option.

"The only reason he's listed as questionable is because that's what the form says," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Friday during his briefing with the Carolina media.

"I'm telling you guys I believe the guy is ready to roll. I really do mean it. I'm pretty confident in his abilities and hopefully things will fall into place nicely for us on Sunday."

Newton underwent surgery on his right shoulder in late-March. He went about three months without throwing. He attempted only two passes during the Panthers’ exhibition season.

But Newton went through a full week of practice without any limitations in preparation to face the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.

“I expect him to be Cam,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said on Thursday. “I’m sure he’s 100 percent and he’s going to be rolling like he normally does.”

The NFL last year removed “probable” as an option on the official injury reports. The only designations are “questionable,” “doubtful” and “out.”