49ers

49ers cutting Reuben Foster defines Shanahan-Lynch era, Jed York believes

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AP

49ers cutting Reuben Foster defines Shanahan-Lynch era, Jed York believes

SANTA CLARA — The 49ers’ road to Super Bowl LIV has had its ups and downs, but what owner CEO Jed York sees as the current regime’s defining moment is likely not what you’d expect it to be. 

The 49ers' huge win over the Saints in the Superdome against future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees might be seen as a defining moment of the organization. The club punching their ticket to the Super Bowl by beating the Packers in the NFC Championship Game is also a moment that leaves a lasting impression. 

While York greatly enjoyed both of those wins, York views a less joyous moment as the turning point of John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan’s six-year tenure.

On Sunday, Nov. 25th, 2018, four hours before the 49ers were set to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the announcement was made that they had decided to release first-round draft pick Reuben Foster. The linebacker had been arrested the night prior to the game on misdemeanor charges of domestic violence. 

The joint decision by Shanahan and Lynch not to tolerate the distraction and the alleged behavior was brought up by York as an important step in building the culture that has been so important to the success of the team.  

“I think a great example is Reuben,” York said. “I love Reuben. I wish that Reuben was still here. We gave Reuben opportunities. We’ve given a lot of guys opportunities but we set our limit, and said 'If we can’t fix this, we have to move on from a talented player.'

“I don’t know that that would have been the case with every other coach or every other general manager. Not just here, but across the league because it’s hard to give up on talent. And I think that to me, is one of the defining moments of John and Kyle of being able to say, ‘This is a first-round pick in our first year’ and we moved on from it and it was hard. 

“And we could have justified not moving on from it. You know there are other people that have been in worse situations than what Reuben was in but we knew where we had to be. And I think that, to me, if you look at a defining moment for those guys, I think that’s a defining moment for the culture of this team of we are ‘team first’ and we are ‘We got your back’ first.”

[RELATED: When York thought 49ers could reach Super Bowl]

That “team first” attitude is very prevalent in several aspects of how the team operates. It is exemplified in how are selfless they are on the field, how it doesn’t matter who shows up on the stat sheet as long as they are winning games. And when they have lost games, there has been no finger pointing. 

While that fateful Sunday in Tampa might want to be forgotten by many, it has proven to be an example of how the identity of the team was shaped into what you see today.

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

Nick Bosa was voted the best rookie in the NFL last season.

The 49ers’ defensive end is approaching the 2020 season with even-bigger expectations for himself.

“I’ve got some pretty concrete things that I’ve been focusing on,” said Bosa, the consensus NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and chosen as the overall Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Bosa registered nine sacks during the regular season with a total of 80 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He added four more sacks in three postseason games.

Bosa came to the NFL with a reputation as an advanced technician. This season, he believes he will be better prepared mentally to become more of a down-to-down force.

”Last year, I didn’t really know what was going to work and what wasn’t and what was my go-to,” he said. “So just coming into games with a better plan of not wasting any time out there because you only get so many opportunities and you want to get those big numbers and help your team as best as you can and get the ball out. You have to come in with a plan and not waste any rushes.”

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

Bosa said he has spent the past six months working on a couple of new pass-rush moves. Even before the draft last year, Bosa spoke about a cross-chop move that Aaron Donald has perfected on his way to becoming arguably the league’s best defensive player. Bosa has also been considering adding a spin move to his arsenal.

Bosa said he also has worked on making better use of his hands to ward off pass-blockers and get to the quarterback more effectively.

“I win a lot at the top of my rush, but a lot of the times I get washed by the quarterback or I don’t pose enough space and finish the plays, so that’s probably been the biggest emphasis for me,” he said. “And I’ve been working that in walk-throughs and drills all (off)-season.”

Bosa faced a number of obstacles as he prepared for his rookie season a year ago. He underwent core-muscle surgery that ended his final season at Ohio State after three games. Bosa spent months rehabbing and traveling the country to meet with teams during the pre-draft process.

After the 49ers selected Bosa with the No. 2 overall draft pick, a hamstring strain during the offseason program sidelined him until training camp. Then, early in camp he sustained a high-ankle sprain that kept him out until Week 1 of the regular season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa 'not going to blame the ref' for big Super Bowl no-call]

While the 49ers and the rest of the NFL canceled on-field work this spring, Bosa trained daily with his brother, Joey, and he believes he enters his second season much better prepared than a year ago.

“I think I’ve gotten all of the benefits and I’m feeling it out here in these workouts, in these runs we’re doing,” he said. “I feel like I’m, by far, in the best shape that I’ve ever been. I don’t look much different because we don’t train to body-build. We train to play football, and I think it’ll show.”

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

Third-and-15.

Three words that will forever be linked to the 49ers’ inability to close the door on the Kansas City Chiefs in the middle of the fourth quarter of their Super Bowl LIV loss at Hard Rock Stadium.

Third-and-15 conjures up a bunch of “what-if” scenarios. The 49ers led by 10 points. They'd lose the game by 11. That play on third-and-15 gave the Chiefs a chance.

It took a while for Tyreek Hill’s downfield route to develop. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes needed time in order for Hill to fool 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley into believing his destination was the deep middle of the field. Mahomes had just enough time to allow Hill time to break his route back outside.

What happened at the beginning of the play made the 44-yard pass completion possible. Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa appeared to beat Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher with an inside move. But Fisher steered Bosa clear of Mahomes with his right arm wrapped around Bosa’s right ribcage.

Months later, does Bosa believe he was held on the play?

“I’ve gotten that question a bunch,” he said with a laugh during a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“I don’t like thinking about that game very much, but I have gone back and watched up until the fourth quarter and, um, was I held? I mean, it comes down to the opinion of a human being. So that’s what refs are. They’re human beings. So if they think it’s holding, they think it’s holding. It could’ve been holding. It could’ve not been holding. It just depends on what he thinks.”

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

Referee Bill Vinovich did not reach for his flag, and the play stood.

Bosa did not have a chance after Fisher got his arm around him. Meanwhile, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who lined up inside of Bosa, was a split-second late in getting to Mahomes.

“I’m not going to say that’s the reason we lost the game because there were plenty of opportunities where I could’ve done better,” Bosa said of the no-call. “I could’ve done better on that move on third and 15. I’m sure Buck is kicking himself. He thinks he could’ve done better on the wrap and gotten there a little quicker. I’m not going to blame the ref, by any means.”

Buckner is now with the Indianapolis Colts after the 49ers traded him for a first-round draft pick that was used to select his replacement, Javon Kinlaw. Buckner is the only defensive starter who does not return for the 49ers this season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa expects Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season]

All the holdovers will use third-and-15 as “good motivation,” said Bosa. After all, his rookie season fell just short of the ultimate prize.

“First year, you get there and you’re seven minutes away and a nightmare of a situation happens,” Bosa said. “So you could bet we’re going to come back pretty strong this year if we’re able to get 16 games in and the playoffs.”