49ers

49ers camp report: Competitive practices lead to skirmish with Broncos

49ers camp report: Competitive practices lead to skirmish with Broncos

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The 49ers and Broncos entered their two practices with the mindset that both teams were expected to treat the other as being all part of one team.

The only heated segment of the two days occurred Saturday between the 49ers’ defense and the Broncos' offense.

“It was just two competitive teams going after it,” 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore said.

Denver wide receiver Brendan Langley and tight end Bug Howard were kicked off the field for throwing punches during a brief skirmish involving 49ers safety Marcell Harris.

“I was told none of our guys threw punches, so when I see the tape we’ll see if they were telling the truth,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.

The 49ers’ defense appeared particularly fired up for the two practices, as they set the tone in the first practice session with a dominating performance. The Broncos’ offense made it more of an equal matchup Saturday.

“It all starts with the D-line and the linebackers,” Moore said. “We feed off them on the back end, so when they’re revved up and playing good, and coming out ready to go, first play, we all feed on the defense. It’s a trickle-down effect.”

Gould for the win

Practice concluded with two end-of-game situations. The 49ers were down by one point. (Denver coach Vic Fangio called it 1-0, while Shanahan preferred 39-38.)

Jimmy Garoppolo hit Jordan Matthews on a pass play in traffic to set up Robbie Gould for a 55-yard field goal attempt. Fangio even called a timeout to try to ice Gould, whose brother, Chris, is the Broncos’ assistant special-teams coach.

Gould nailed the long field-goal attempt with plenty of room to spare to give the 49ers the “win.”

Offensive play of the day

Wide receiver Richie James had a good couple days in the practices against the Broncos. He supplied the big play of the day when Garoppolo found him on an option route for a 30-yard gain.

“I had a choice to keep it vertical or sit down on that route, and I saw the safety way too deep, so I pushed vertical at him, and I sat down and Jimmy threw it over the linebackers,” James said. “It was a dime.”

Defensive plays of the day

The 49ers went without any interceptions on the day, but Harris made a good play down the field when he ripped the ball loose from Howard on a Joe Flacco pass. Howard and Harris would later get in a scuffle, with Howard throwing a punch that got him kicked off the practice field.

Injury report

Running back Matt Breida returned to practice after leaving Friday’s drills after sustaining a shoulder injury during a one-on-one blitz pickup drill.

Guard Mike Person is listed as day-to-day with a left foot strain. Person sustained the injury during practice on Friday, and an X-ray came back negative. He is not expected to play Monday night.

Safety Antone Exum is day-to-day with a minor knee injury sustained in practice Friday.

Tight end George Kittle (calf) did not practice on either of the two days working with the Broncos. Shanahan said Kittle would be available to play if this were the regular season.

Running back Raheem Mostert was cleared off concussion protocol and returned to practice on Saturday.

Other 49ers to sit out practice were: Tight end Levine Toilolo (shoulder), guard Joshua Garnett (finger), wide receiver Trent Taylor (foot), defensive linemen Nick Bosa (ankle), Dee Ford (knee), Ronald Blair (groin), Jullian Taylor (back), D.J. Jones (knee), linebacker Elijah Lee (thumb), cornerbacks Jason Verrett (ankle) and K’Waun Williams (knee) and free safety Jimmie Ward (collarbone).

[RELATED: Why Lynch is confident Jimmy G will have successful return]

This ‘n’ that

-- Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, Kyle’s father, held a press conference during practice. Earlier this summer, Fangio invited Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, back to the Broncos facility for the first time since he last coached there in 2008 ...

-- The Broncos' defensive line did a number on the 49ers during one-on-one pass-rush drills. One of the few wins came from left tackle Joe Staley against former 49ers teammate Dekoda Watson after Watson got the better of Staley on the first snap ...

-- Cornerback D.J. Reed broke up a Flacco pass deep down the right sideline intended for Broncos receiver Kelvin McKnight ...

-- The 49ers generated a takeaway when linebacker Fred Warner punched the ball loose from a Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick after a pass completion. Ahkello Witherspoon made the recovery ...

-- Flacco hit Courtland Sutton on a deep ball against Richard Sherman, who mistimed his leap ...

--With center Weston Richberg remaining on PUP and Person out of action, Ben Garland handled the center chores with Daniel Brunskill taking over at right guard.

Next up

Training camp has officially come to an end with Saturday being the final practice that will be open to the media until next year. The 49ers and Broncos will play Monday night in an exhibition game, which will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Colin Kaepernick could help five NFL teams if they’d give him contract

Colin Kaepernick could help five NFL teams if they’d give him contract

Colin Kaepernick’s last game in an NFL uniform came on January 1, 2017. The 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahawks 25-23, and Kaepernick was 17-of-22 passing with 215 yards and one touchdown.

The signal-caller hasn’t been able to find another team in the NFL willing to sign him since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers. Many have speculated that teams wouldn’t bring Kaepernick in as a free agent due to his choice to kneel during the national anthem throughout the 2016 season. Kaepernick sued the NFL for collusion in 2017, as he felt he was blacklisted by the owners due to his protest. The two sides settled out of court. 

The NFL arranged a tryout for Kaepernick in November, but disagreement between the league and Kaepernick’s attorneys led to the QB hosting his own workout at a high school in the Atlanta area, about 60 miles from the Atlanta Falcons facility. Kaepernick showed he’s still got some of that trademark arm strength.

Now that the tragic death of George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department has brought the issue of police brutality and racism front and center in the United States, many have reflected on the roots of Kaepernick’s protest more than three years ago. The NFL also has acknowledged that it hasn’t done enough to combat the issue, and vowed to listen to its players more during a social media post from commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday. Goodell, however, did not mention Kaepernick specifically in his statement.

If the league finally reversed course and an organization decided to consider signing Kaepernick, what team would be the best situation for him to join after three full seasons away from the NFL? Here are five squads that could benefit from bringing the 32-year-old quarterback in.

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

Pittsburgh Steelers

After franchise staple Ben Roethlisberger injured his elbow in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh wasn’t left with a lot of talent at the game’s most important position. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges put together an admirable effort the rest of the way, but the Steelers finished 8-8 despite featuring a top-five scoring defense in 2019.

Roethlisberger also turned 38 in March, and likely doesn’t have many starter-quality years left in the NFL. Kaepernick is six years younger -- and with Big Ben coming off an injury -- the ex-49er could help keep the offense afloat for Pittsburgh in case Roethlisberger can’t return to his previous form.

New England Patriots

This likely would provide Kaepernick the best opportunity to be a starter right away. Franchise icon and proverbial GOAT QB Tom Brady departed this offseason in free agency, and many expect coach Bill Belichick to hand the keys over to untested young quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Kaepernick at the very least could give Stidham some stiff competition in training camp, if not win the starting job outright.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, which could decrease the odds New England signs Kap. Trump famously called Kaepernick a “son of a b---h” and said he should be “fired” for kneeling during the national anthem back in 2016. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have dealt with ineptitude at the quarterback position for many years. Gardner Minshew didn’t exactly set the NFL on fire in his rookie season, but 21 touchdowns with just six interceptions over 14 games did inspire some hope in Jacksonville.

Quarterbacks have shown a tendency to regress in their second season, and Kaepernick could serve both as a solid backup option and a mentor for the 24-year-old Minshew. Jacksonville traded former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to Chicago this offseason, and currently, has Mike Glennon slated to be the backup for the Jaguars.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan believes Colin Kaepernick deserves admiration]

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford has been one of the most prolific passers in the NFL over the past decade. The gunslinger topped 4,500 yards in three consecutive seasons from 2011-13 but has dropped off in recent years.

He only played eight games in 2019 after breaking bones in his back. Stafford reportedly is 100 percent recovered from the injury, but has taken plenty of shots over his 11-year career.

Trade rumors swirled around Stafford early last season, and he even put his $6.5 million Michigan home on the market in May. Kaepernick would be a nice insurance policy for Stafford, and even has a similarly powerful throwing arm.

The Lions did agree to terms with Chase Daniel on a three-year deal in March to be Stafford's backup.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan did win the NFL MVP just four years ago, but he hasn’t returned to near that level since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departed for the 49ers.

Ryan’s numbers have declined, and he led the NFL after being sacked 48 times in 2019. Although Matt Schaub has been a serviceable backup, including throwing for 460 yards in his lone start last season, he’s 38 years old and likely isn’t much of an upgrade over Kap, if at all.

Kaepernick’s added athletic ability also could bring a different element to Atlanta’s offense in case of Ryan’s absence.

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 recently has 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 to 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]