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


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.”

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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 hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

49ers hopeful receiver Jalen Hurd will be cleared for offseason program

INDIANAPOLIS -- Even before the 49ers have the opportunity to select a wide receiver in the draft, the club expects to add the services of a young pass-catcher.

Jalen Hurd, a third-round draft pick from a year ago, appears to be on schedule to receive clearance to rejoin the 49ers when the offseason program begins in April. Hurd spent his rookie season on injured reserve due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

“For it to completely heal, it happens on different timelines,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “We found that his has been stubborn. We think he’s been nearing towards a much better place where he’ll be cleared for all activities.

“(We) don’t want to officially give that word, but there have been some recent scans and things that give us a lot of hope that that’ll be the case, come April 1, he’ll be a full-go.”

Hurd was not around the team too much during his rookie season. He did not travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV due to concerns about aggravating his back condition.

“I think there’s a little anxiety on his part that the long plane rides had set him off before and he worked so hard to try to get right, and kind of didn’t want that to enter the equation,” Lynch said.

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In order for Hurd's back to heal, the 49ers and Hurd felt it was best to keep him off his feet.  

“With his back stuff, he didn’t want to travel, didn’t want to be in the meetings and everything," head coach Kyle Shanahan said. "There wasn’t much to do. He had a stress fracture and it’s taking a long time to heal, so we wanted him to be as immobile as possible.”

Hurd (6-foot-4, 227 pounds) caught 69 passes for 946 yards and four touchdowns in his senior season at Baylor in 2018. He played his first three college seasons at Tennessee, where he rushed for 2,635 yards and 20 touchdowns as a running back.

Hurd appeared in the 49ers’ preseason opener last summer and caught two touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys before experiencing the back condition that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

George Kittle's secret to Kyle Shanahan's wife gets back to 49ers coach

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Kyle Shanahan escaped to Cabo San Lucas shortly after the 49ers’ Super Bowl loss to get away from it all.

Shanahan ended up “randomly” spending time with 49ers players George Kittle, Nick Mullens, Trent Taylor and Levine Toilolo, who also went to Mexico for a vacation and some golf.

"I think we broke a record," Shanahan said Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We played like nine holes in five hours."

Kittle, an All-Pro tight end, is in line for a massive contract extension this offseason. This is the first time he can renegotiate a new contract after coming to the 49ers as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017.

The next time Kittle steps on the field with the 49ers, he is expected to have a new deal that will make him the highest-paid tight end in the league.

He might have given away some of his negotiating power while confiding in Mandy Shanahan, Kyle’s wife.

“He told my wife how much he liked it here (with the 49ers),” Shanahan said. “He even told my wife to promise not to tell me until after he signs. She told me. She’s my wife.”

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Kittle made base salaries of $465,000, $555,000 and $645,000 in his first three NFL seasons. His salary is scheduled to increase to $2.144 million in 2020 with a performance bonus. His next contract is expected to worth more than $12 million per season.

Kittle was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second time last season. He caught 85 passes for 1,053 yards and five touchdowns. In 2018, Kittle set the NFL single-season record for a tight end with 1,377 receiving yards.