49ers

49ers being cautious with Dee Ford, others before third preseason game

49ers being cautious with Dee Ford, others before third preseason game

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers play three preseason games in a 10-day span, which partially influenced their decision not to rush players back onto the field for Saturday's contest against the Chiefs. 

When asked if ailing defensive end Dee Ford was going to make his preseason debut in front of his former team, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh explained that there was no need to hurry the pass rusher back into action. 

“Dee Ford, just like the other guys that haven’t been able to go, there’s no rush for this, especially on a short week” Saleh said. “The Monday night game on the road and then going again on the road Saturday. 

“For Dee, it’s just again going and checking in with the performance staff, see where he’s at. If he’s able to, great. If not, there’s no pressing need. Again, it’s up to the performance staff and how that goes.”

Ford had a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his knee at the beginning of August to help him with recurring tendinitis. He has been held out of team drills since the procedure, but Saleh is confident Ford will be able to step in once he is healthy without missing a beat. 

“Yeah, for sure,” Saleh said. “Dee Ford’s position here is less mentally taxing than what it was with the Chiefs.”

The team also will not rush back safety Jimmie Ward, who broke his collarbone 12 weeks ago. While the average recovery time for a collarbone is six to eight weeks, the team is being cautious with Ward -- who has had several injuries spanning his NFL career. 

Saleh and the remainder of the coaching staff has confidence in Ward’s ability, as they do with Ford. 

“For Jimmie, it’s no different than as if it was the first day of camp,” Saleh said. “So, he’s going to come in, he’s going to practice, he’s going to get his reps in and we’ll talk about the plan for him during the game during the week for game action, but just see where he’s at. 

“But, I think mentally, he’ll be okay. He’s been in all the meetings, he’s been going through all of it, he’s been in individual, he’s been at all the walk-throughs, so it’ll be a quick adjustment for him.”

[RELATED: 49ers' backup QB decision won't be made until final cut]

The game in Kansas City will, however, serve as the preseason debuts for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner and linebacker Kwon Alexander. 

Alexander is coming off an ACL injury and has made great progress in his rehab, and Saleh has taken notice.

“You know what, I give credit, one to him, with his work ethic, two to the performance staff and the plan that they’ve had for him, and everybody executing it,” Saleh said.

“He’s come along well. He’s made great strides from his first day of practice until now, so I’m excited to get him out there and see what he does for his first game action. It’s no pressure for him to go and be great, an All-Pro in his first preseason action, it’s just go out there, get his game reps in and get back comfortable playing football.”

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

Roger Goodell says NFL didn't listen, doesn't mention Colin Kaepernick

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell admitted Friday that the league was wrong for "not listening to NFL players earlier" and that they "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," but his 81-second video didn't mention former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick first sat, then kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before games in the 2016 season to protest police brutality and institutional racism. The QB's protest has recently received renewed attention, as demonstrations against the same issues spring up around the globe following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in Minneapolis police custody last Monday.

"We, the [NFL], believe black lives matter," Goodell said Friday. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no [NFL] and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff.

"We are listening. I am listening. And I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and move forward for a better, more united NFL family."

The commissioner's comments came shortly after the league shared a video of players asking for the NFL to "listen" and admit they were "wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting." Multiple players, including star New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, first shared the video Thursday.

"We will not be silenced," the players said. "We assert our right to peacefully protest."

Protests have taken place nationwide in each of the 10 nights following Floyd's death prior to this story's publication. Floyd pleaded that he couldn't breathe as Derek Chauvin, a since-fired officer who is white, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. The 46-year-old's death occurred within months of Breonna Taylor, 26, and Ahmaud Arbery, 25, dying, all as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately affect African Americans. Louisville police fatally shot Taylor in her home while reportedly performing a "no-knock" warrant, and two white men allegedly shot and murdered Arbery as he jogged around his Georgia neighborhood.

Demonstrators have taken the streets to protest the same issues Kaepernick highlighted, nearly four years after he first began protesting. Kaepernick, who agreed to kneel during "The Star-Spangled Banner" after consulting with former Seattle Seahawks long-snapper and Green Beret Nate Boyer, faced criticism for disrespecting the American flag and the country's veterans. Goodell said he didn't "necessarily agree with what [Kaepernick was] doing" in his first public comments after Kaepernick's protest.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” Goodell told The Associated Press on Sept. 7, 2016. “I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Goodell said in 2017 players had a "responsibility" of demonstrating "at the right time and in the right way." The NFL owners approved a national-anthem policy in May 2018 that would've required players to stand on the sideline as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played, but the league and the NFL Players Association announced in July there would be no new policy.

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan wants NFL to fix coaching diversity issue]

Kaepernick argued his protest cost him his career in a collusion lawsuit he settled with the league last February. The quarterback opted out of his contract ahead of the 2017 season, when the 49ers told him he'd otherwise be released, and has not been signed since. The NFL organized a workout for Kaepernick at the Atlanta Falcons' facility last November, but Kaepernick pulled out of the workout after the league barred media access and his lawyers deemed a liability waiver "unusual."

"I've been ready for three years, and I've been denied for three years," Kaepernick told reporters after moving the workout to a high school outside of Atlanta. "We all know why I came out here and showed it today in front of everybody -- we have nothing to hide. So we're waiting for the 32 owners, the 32 teams, Roger Goodell, all of them to stop running. Stop running from the truth, stop running from the people."

Goodell said in December that the NFL had "moved on" from Kaepernick after he "chose not to take" the opportunity the NFL gave him by moving the workout.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

49ers' George Kittle reveals which NFL players are toughest to block

George Kittle has never kept his love for run-blocking a secret. Any opportunity to drive a defender into the turf is embraced by the 49ers tight end the same way kids greet the arrival of Christmas morning.

During a recent appearance on the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast with fellow NFL players Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, Kittle revealed two blocking assignments he doesn’t exactly live for.

“Khalil Mack’s tough,” Kittle said. “He’s pretty good. (Jadeveon) Clowney is pretty good too.”

Kittle and Mack faced off late in the 2018 season, during a low-scoring dogfight at Levi’s Stadium between the 49ers and Chicago Bears. Mack got three hits in on quarterback Nick Mullens, but didn’t end up with a sack among his five tackles.

[RELATED: Ranking top 49ers plays in franchise's storied history: No. 5-1]

Clowney was a difficult assignment for the Niners in both matchups last season, although Kittle was inactive for the Seattle Seahawks’ win on "Monday Night Football" in Week 10.

The current free agent had six tackles and five QB hits over those two games against San Francisco, not to mention scoring one of his two touchdowns on the season after scooping up a fumble.

Mack and Kittle could face off when the 49ers and Bears meet during the 2020 preseason on Aug. 29, but it remains to be seen where Clowney will wind up signing in free agency. 

Some have even postulated he could be a fit for the 49ers, if no team is willing to meet a reportedly exorbitant asking price.

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]